Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Sometime in the 1980s, somewhere in England, two schoolkids shoot a VHS remake of First Blood.

If I sound a bit vague above, it's with good reasons.

For a long time now there seems to have been a law which requires all period movies to revel in anachronisms.

This film for example initially appears to be set while First Blood is at the cinema, so 1982. Alas it also tries to be set in a world of mobile phones and video-projectors, dating it a whole decade later at the earliest. In order to reconcile these elements, you have to keep reminding yourself that it's only a movie, which of course is a killer for connecting with any of the characters.

These days there increasingly seems to be an additional legal requirement to fudge a movie's geographical setting too. In the old days editing would rob a film's real-life location of making any sense to you if you knew the area personally. Now they often won't even tell you where it's meant to be.

Consequently, from the word go, it's impossible to place just when and where these events are taking place. It all, without exception, looks like America. (NB. it wasn't)

Overcoming this remoteness are actors Will Poulter and Bill Millner, who with great conviction bring the film's central uneasy friendship to life. They're ably guided by director Garth Jennings, who has apparently been on a crash course in how to tell a story since his preceding starship-wreck The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. He also wisely stays away from swearing, making this a film that kids can watch too. Every other British director take note.

A smaller vision might have required the kids to act badly in their video, and endlessly move the camera for no reason, but there is no sense anywhere here of patronising the young film-makers.

Also, unusually for a movie about film-making, we do actually get to watch the completed film at the end, more or less. Take that, Bowfinger!

The sub-plot about the so-called Plymouth Brethren is another intrusion of movieland simplicity, the actors being given hardly any depth to work with. For example, we're forced to suppose that this church community only contains a couple of parishioners who are going through the hassles of parenting. Again, as with the two leads mentioned earlier, it's a wonder that Jessica Stevenson and Neil Dudgeon get away with their scenes as well as they do.

There are some genuinely rough moments in this - in a good way - such as the final argument between the blood-stained Lee and the shivering tar-covered Will towards the end. Given what oppressive worldviews their respective families have incarcerated them each in, their always painful friendship is a bleak refuge indeed, and all the more important to them for it.

Son Of Rambow is quite fun at the end, but getting there does require quite a cold trek through an unfamiliar landscape first.

(available here)


1 comment(s):

At 2:22 pm, Blogger Maurice Mitchell said...

I remember hearing about this film. It sounds like a lot of fun.


Post a Comment

<< Back to Steve's home page

** Click here for preceding post(s) **

** Click here for following post(s) **