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dir-scr Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
prd Sue Baden-Powell, Ricky Gervais, Charlie Hanson, Stephen Merchant
with Christian Cooke, Tom Hughes, Jack Doolan, Felicity Jones, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Matthew Goode, Ricky Gervais, Julia Davis, Steve Speirs, Anne Reid, Francis Magee
release UK 14.Apr.10
10/UK Sony 1h35
Get me outta here: Cooke and Jones
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
There's a strong autobiographical tone to this British period drama, and the cast is very good. But by never focussing the story in a meaningful way, the film pales in comparison to its nearest predecessor, AN EDUCATION.
In the Cemetery Junction area of Reading in 1973, Freddie (Cooke) is a young guy just starting a new job selling insurance while his best friend Bruce (Hughes) still works in the local factory and their goofy pal Snork (Doolan) makes announcements at the train station. Freddie clearly has ambition, and is happy when he runs into old flame Julie (Jones), who turns out to be the fiancee of his supervisor (Goode) and daughter of the company boss (Fiennes). But both Freddie and Julie have doubts about heading into suburban respectability.
The distinct touch of Gervais-Merchant can be heard in much of the film's lively dialog, which specialises in people comically saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. This adds to the snappy editing and jaunty tone, but starts to wear a bit thin when we realise that there's not much more to this than watching a guy trying to get his "real life" going. Sure, it's very nicely observed by the cast and crew, but it's neither original nor funny enough to be memorable.
There's also the problem that the three central characters are screenwriting-class types: nice-guy everyman Freddie, hot-headed Bruce and silly Snork. And for contrast, Julie is progressive, intelligent and sexy. All of them are well-played by the bright young cast, but Fiennes and Watson steal the show as a restrained couple who have settled for the status quo. In their eyes, we see that they know what they're missing in life, and their different responses to this give the film a provocative zing that's otherwise lacking.
The plot also slips into film-school structure as it builds to a sudden action-type climax and a big emotional finale. Ultimately this is a small movie, a relaxed and cheery bit of nostalgia that probably should have been made on a fraction of the budget. That might have added some grit and authenticity to what is otherwise a perfectly adequate, slickly made drama about growing up.
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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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