Living in Hope
Hope Hall. The boys learn lots about life in their first week at university...
dir John Miller
scr Guy de Beaujeu
with Tom Harper, Paul Foster, Liam McMahon, Bennet Thorpe, Robin Edwards, Naomie Harris, Jade Ball, Lowri Pritchard, Norman Bowler, Lorraine Chase, Joseph Rye, Rob Temple
release UK 18.Nov.03 DVD
02/UK 1h27

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Why is it that films set in university have an attitude that seems to say, "We're the first film to tell it like it really was!" ... when in reality they're just another bundle of cliches and clumsy film devices? At least this one has good actors in it. It's about five mismatched (of course) guys who all live in Hope Hall (subtle eh?) at a private university in Bristol. Posh (Harper) is, erm, posh--a happy-go-lucky rich kid looking mostly for sex, alcohol and no studying whatsoever. Footsie (Foster) is a nerd with a head for business (FTSE, geddit?), no life experience and the expectations of his northern hometown on his shoulders. Liam (McMahon) is a lovesick Irishman. Animal (Thorpe) is a rugby playing hardhead with inner turmoil. And Harry (Edwards) is the story's narrator, a cockney pretending to be posh. First they get up to the usual student antics, then there's a tragedy, an outrageous stunt and a bit of romance before the film morphs into a full-fledged crime caper comedy.

So there's the problem. The film has no idea what it wants to be--irreverent, touching, provocative and silly, but never actually coming up with anything original. Every scene and most of the dialog is so familiar that we never get drawn into the story at all. Fortunately, the cast is terrific, and any interest comes from them. Harper is especially good, energetically charming everyone's socks off in a rather underwritten role. But then everything and everyone here is underwritten; it just bounces all over the place trying desperately to hit the right notes. The narration is very irritating, full of those "what we've learned" lines that only a 20-year-old would write (as if we learn everything there is to know about life in our first week of college). And while Supertoys' music is excellent, it's used in such a predictable way that we don't really notice it. In fact, the whole film is directed and edited in that well-worn oh-so-hip style that actually tells us nothing at all. Yawn. There are things here that will please viewers still stuck in their college years, but the film has nothing much to say to the rest of us.
themes, language cert 15 11.Mar.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Reese, UK: 5 out of 5 stars "This film ROCKS...and has just come out on DVD this week. Comes with a FREE cd of the entire soundtrack!" (18.Nov.03)
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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