Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day Five - "This trip is like going for a walk with a sick white Oprah"

Featured review of the day: The Runaways

Third Star

British drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a terminally ill young man who invites his three best friends (Tom Burke, JJ field and Adam Robertson) on a camping trip to his favourite place in the world.

Expanded version of official ViewEdinburgh review: Impressively directed and sharply written, this is a powerfully emotional British drama with superb performances from all four leads. Directed by Hattie Dalton, Third Star opens with a voiceover by terminally ill 29 year-old James (Benedict Cumberbatch) explaining that he doesn't intend to see 30 and that he's okay with that. James duly invites his three best friends – sensitive Davy (Tom Burke), practical Bill (Adam Robertson) and feckless Miles (JJ Feild) – to accompany him on a camping trip to his favourite place in the world - Pembrokeshire's Barafundle Bay - but his three friends are unaware that he plans to commit suicide when he gets there. The trip consists of the usual round of mishaps, arguments and bizarre encounters (including a make-up-wearing ferryman, Nanny McPhee 2's Eros Vlahos as an angel-winged little shit who steals Miles's watch and Hugh Bonneville as a bonkers beachcomber in search of a shipment of rare brown Darth Vaders) before the inevitable round of revelations, confessions and soul-searching. But will James' friends let him go through with his plan when they discover his intentions? The performances are excellent and the friendship between all four men feels organic and real, particularly in their easy, piss-taking banter and good-natured rough-housing (“I liked the squeaky noise you made when he had you in a head-lock”). Of the four, Cumberbatch is moving and dignified as James, while Feild adds several layers to Miles in the more obviously charismatic role (as well as demonstrating an impressive ability to cry underwater), but there's strong support from Burke and newcomer Robertson, both of whom find touching moments of their own. Vaughan Sivell's script crackles with witty, natural-sounding lines (including an extremely funny suppository gag) and familiar-sounding pointless conversations (the title comes from an argument about the correct directions to Neverland), while the emotional speeches are well handled, with Sivell showing an impressive ability to both undercut the more mawkish moments (Miles accuses James of “unnecessary fake soul-searching”) and to swerve away from the usual clich├ęs at the last moment (e.g. when James starts nagging Miles about his abandoned novel and Miles just tells him to shut up). In addition, the film is beautifully shot and takes full advantage of the gorgeous scenery, while the climax is both impressively directed and powerfully emotional. Four stars.

Coming soon: High School

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