In Hyde Park, Nigerian-American attorney named David Eguasa (Kenneth Okolie) is tasked with saving his client Eric Deng (Xavier McKnight) from deportation, all while defining his cultural identity in a romantic relationship with his American girlfriend. To make matters more complicated, his client is gay, which goes against his Nigerian upbringing.
The conflict of tradition, culture, and social and ethical responsibility all come into play, making for a very tumultuous and rather turbulent court drama.
What Else Goes On In Hyde Park?
Then there is the dramedy and romcom aspect of Hyde Park. David’s mother wants him to be with a traditional Nigerian woman, his father wants him to continue to be a successful lawyer. The challenge is that he’s in love with a Black American woman he works with named Lola (Dawn Halfkenny). Even though David’s group of friends come from multiple walks of life and are accepted by his parents, the culture clash comes when his mother can’t see him being married to anyone other than a Nigerian woman.
This film resonated with me in a way that I was not ready for. I am a first gen American West Indian who happens to be very Pro-Black and very Pro-Diaspora, and I’m also bisexual. I walk a fine line where code switching is a part of my life; it’s instinctual, and it’s literally required to live. I am three different people at any given moment in a 24hr period, so I understood Eric’s struggles with being a Black man from the Diaspora and identifying as a member of LGBTQIA+ community. The community really makes Eric juxtapose to exactly what he can be with who, and when.
It’s truly an exercise in cognitive dissidence, as he is in a state where he is constantly having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, and even attitudes, towards his social and private behavioral decisions that create a certain attitude change towards his family, its tradition, culture and his homeland.
I related to the lawyer, David and his having to be Black and African American. And being in all of these subcultures and yet not being fully accepted in any of them. Too Black for the Africans and too African for the Blacks. And his struggle with having to be a child of the culture. Meaning sometimes accepting the overbearing actions of a loving mother that can be too involved in his love life. And a domineering father that simply wants the best for his progeny, in the way of high grades and superior results to provide proof that he raised him well.
This film brought out so many feelings and in some ways, self-revelations that I was not prepared for. I literally cried and wailed when Eric’s mother took the stand and shared her story of growing up in Africa and her first introduction to LGBTQIA+ matters.
Her willingness to understand that love, sexuality, and self-identity shouldn’t be regulated on a political or social level because that negates the true existence of freedom made her address her regret for her own negligence in defending and protecting a friend in her childhood and seeing how she was repeating the same act with her own son.
Seeing Eric receive acceptance from his father was truly touching, striking a chord with me personally. It was something I wished I received from my own father before he passed, and caused a honest conversation with my mother about the love, understanding, and acceptance displayed in the film and the types and shadows between my own life and relationships we had. The portrayal of every character was beyond authentic. No portion of Hyde Park was disingenuous or overacted. Many things within Hyde Park were subtle but had a particular tone for which the director, writer, and the actors can be championed.
Hyde Park had a message of love. For all it’s transparency through denoting themes of being heard, seen, and valued. With being ones true self, and all that with a rom-com element. In many ways it had portions of its contemporaries such as Insecure, Atlanta, Southside, Dear White People, and every and anything Black in television all rolled in one.
Hyde Park speaks to what it is to be Black in America, part of the diaspora, staying true to ones self no matter the cost, learning to love not even yourself but those that you don’t understand, with having pride for being who you are and recognizing how far you have come. Hyde Park is a true feel good film that will make you think, as well as inspire open and honest discussion with friends, family, and loved ones. It’s a film that deserves to be rewatched and shared with everyone and should be considered as required viewing somewhere, somehow.
Hyde Park is now out in theaters.