Vince The Cinephile’s review published on Letterboxd:
In its brief 68-minutes, Steve McQueen renders a celebration of Black people enjoying each other's company in this sensuous, joyous Lovers Rock. The film is a perfect palette cleanser following the harshness and fiery protest given by Mangrove. Set in a period where most Black folks are not allowed to enter dance clubs and to enjoy themselves freely in public without being harassed or demeaned, McQueen sets Lovers Rock as a tribute to that generation. McQueen freely watches these characters as they get carried by the harmonies of the music, and the emotions that it sets whether it’s mutual attraction, sex, or flirtation. The sensations brought by Lovers Rock are sensual and tactile, you can almost feel the air with your skin.
As celebratory as it is, the film doesn’t forget to be real and to be brutally honest. McQueen is aware and vigilant as the characters are still surrounded by dark forces outside. There’s the police roaming around, the prejudiced white guys standing outside, and a man carrying a large cross across town professing his ideals. The film doesn’t go on a fantasy land but rather, acknowledges the realism of the situation. But without a doubt, the film’s thesis is encapsulated in its glorious long sequence of Janet Kay’s “Silly Games”, which became one of my favorite scenes this year. In the end, Lovers Rock is incandescent in its execution and quite transporting if you let yourself be free by its spell.