Johnson handles this grim plot with a refreshing sincerity and non-judgemental approach, focusing on a teenage girl who is struggling to adapt in a tough, often brutal environment on the fringes of inner city deprivation. Layla (Jessica Sula, SKINS), is a girl dealing with arriving in a new country, not fitting in, not having any money, trying to connect with an often distant mother, seeking the acceptance of the local girls and the affection of local heartthrob MC (Troy, played by Lucien Laviscount). The plot also alludes to a darker past for Layla (and her mother) involving relatives back in Trinidad. Jessica Sula is truly outstanding in this role. She delivers a performance which transcends Johnson’s complex approach to the character, and shows a fully realised portrayal of adolescence, which as everyone who’s gone through it knows, is a wide ranging scope of emotions, experiences, confusions, excitement, joy and despair. Sula handles Layla’s multitude of emotions and experiences in a way that encompasses this broad spectrum but retains a consistency, it is always Layla and she, like us all, are capable of being very different people.
The breadth of Layla’s character (and her portrayal) are seen in Johnson’s understanding and delivery of this story. London youth culture is easily stereotyped, mocked and too lazily represented in most media, be it films, music, fashion, advertising. What makes HONEYTRAP more than another teen/youth/gang genre pic is it characters depth, and it’s telling of an ethically complex story with honesty and integrity.