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Rated 3.01 stars
by 460 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Find the Right Key
by Betty Jo Tucker

Urban Hymn may be exhausting to watch, but it’s one of the best films of 2017. So be patient with the rough language and behavior at the beginning of the movie. You will be glad you did. Watching the strong bond that develops ever so slowly between a troubled teenager and her new social worker will touch your heart. And you will love the way music is showcased throughout as a powerful force in changing behavior. Be sure to stay to see the artistic staging of the movie’s final musical number. It ends up being a wonderful scene to remember, despite the heartache that comes before.     

With a talented cast and masterful direction by Niki Caro of Whale Rider fame, this offering should be on its way to many accolades during the upcoming awards season. Although the two acting stand- outs here are Letitia Wright (My Brother the Devil) as Jamie and Shirley Henderson (Bridget Jones’ Baby) as Kate, the rest of the cast members also deserve kudos.    

Who will take time to help Jamie?

She’s a hard case, it’s plain to see.

Almost eighteen plus with bad friends.

Will prison be where this girl ends?


Not if the social worker Kate

can change this youngster’s direst fate.

Jamie can sing, Kate soon finds out.

She’s ultra- talented no doubt.


But breaking through Jamie’s tough mask

will be a most enormous task.

No sugar coating in this film.

Yet music rules in URBAN HYMN.

I would be remiss not to mention Isabella Laughland’s (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2) contribution to this tough but poignant movie. She plays Jamie’s best friend Leanne, who becomes disturbed when Jamie starts trying to turn her life around. Laughland makes her character very scary indeed. Even when Leanne is protective of Jamie, she appears frightening. And when her annoying attitude becomes something else entirely, Leanne scares almost everyone around her – including me.

Urban Hymn paints a bleak picture of London’s group homes for troubled kids. But it also shows the importance of helping youngsters develop their positive abilities before they are released on their own at eighteen.  

Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens. – Maria Augusta von Trapp

Music can change the world because it can change people. --- Bono

(Released by Level 33 Entertainment; not rated by MPAA.)

For more information about Urban Hymn, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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