Purely Belter

Shearer! Shearer! Our heroes Gerry and Sewell (Beattie and McLane) come face to face with their hero...
dir-scr Mark Herman
with Chris Beattie, Greg McLane, Charlie Hardwick, Tracy Whitwell, Jody Baldwin, Kevin Whately, Kerry Ann Christiansen, Tim Healy, Su Elliott, Daniel James Lake, Roy Hudd, Val McLane
FilmFour 00/UK 2 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
After the decent but flawed Brassed Off and the sublime Little Voice, writer-director Herman brings us Purely Belter, a tale of football obsession in northeast England. And not a terribly good film, alas.

Gerry and Sewell (Beattie and McLane) are inseparable friends. In their late-teens, they've abandoned school for their obsession with Newcastle United, their local football team, and they've decided to do whatever it takes to get season tickets ... and a purely belter day in the stadium. But it's not very easy for a couple of uneducated no-hopers, and they move through plan after desperate plan until their silly criminal activities get just a bit more serious thank child's play.

The film has a warm-hearted feel to it that makes it bearable, but underneath it all, this is trite, condescending cinema from the get go. Gerry and Sewell are basically Laurel and Hardy--smart/stupid, little/big, on a hopeless quest and going through scenarios that provide grounds for comedy, slapstick and a bit of romance or drama. Herman's writing and direction are uneven at best; Beattie and McLane are not very good, even though they do have screen presence, which helps make a few key scenes meaningful and somewhat funny and/or moving. But the other characters never come to life at all--theyr'e mere stereotypes (Hardwick's battered mum, Whately's gruff teacher, Christiansen's junkie sister, Healy's brutal dad, Hudd's too-stupid-to-live grandfather, etc). And the story is from outer space, full of improbabilities, inconsistencies and contrivances. It'll probably do OK box-office wise, since it is a crowd pleaser. But that doesn't make it any better.

[15--themes, language, some violence] 23.Oct.00
UK release 27.Oct.00

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"I think that this is a great movie. It makes you proud of living in the Northeast. Of course gorgeous Chris Beattie made it better for me. Foxy." --Paul, UK 13.Oct.02
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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall