“Guava Island,” a new 55-minute film starring Donald Glover and Rihanna, was released as a limited-time free stream on Amazon overnight Saturday, during Glover’s headlining set as Childish Gambino at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
The mysterious project, which has been teased for months, features Glover as Deni, a singer hoping to bring the mystical island of Guava together with a music festival, while Rihanna plays his girlfriend, Kofi, and provides voice-over during a fairy-tale-like animated introduction about the fictional location and its valuable blue silk. Nonso Anozie (“Game of Thrones”) and Letitia Wright (“Black Panther”) also appear.
With a plot involving exploited workers, the struggles of musicians and a society divided between red and blue, the film incorporates themes present in much of Glover’s recent work, from the hit FX series “Atlanta”to his viral, Grammy-winning song and video for “This Is America,” which is interpolated in “Guava Island.”
The film was written by Glover’s brother Stephen and directed by longtime collaborator Hiro Murai, who was also behind the camera for much of “Atlanta” and “This Is America.” Following its premiere on the grounds of Coachella on Thursday, and the Childish Gambino show Friday night, “Guava Island” was made available for anyone to watch on Amazon for 18 hours starting Saturday at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time; it will then be available exclusively to Amazon Prime subscribers.
“Guava Island” does not ultimately feature much new music from Childish Gambino — or any singing from Rihanna. The movie opens with a breezy unreleased number from Glover and has elements of another song with the lyrics, “Maybe the sky will fall down on tomorrow/but one thing’s for certain baby/we’re running out of time.”
It also incorporates alternate versions of recent Childish Gambino singles like “Summertime Magic” and “Feels Like Summer,” along with “Saturday.” In one scene set in a factory, another character tells Deni that he hopes to save enough money to make it to America. “It’s different there,” the man says. “I heard people are their own bosses.”
Deni responds: “This is America. Guava’s no different than any other country,” adding, “America is a concept. Anywhere where in order to make yourself rich, you have to make someone else richer is America.”
New York Times