Son of Rambow

Dir: Garth Jennings
Star: Will Poulter, Bill Milner, Jessica Hynes, Jules Sitruk

How you react to this will likely depend to a good extent on how much you are a child of the early eighties. For me, that was right at the heart of my secondary-school experience, and so this was a glorious trip back into nostalgia - for anyone one else, I can see how it could seem more than a bit self-indulgent. Two kids, from distinctly-different backgrounds, become pals at their school. Will (Milner) is part of a deeply-religious family, forbidden even to watch TV; Lee (Poulter) is a bit of a delinquent, whose parents are both largely-absent, allowing him and his older brother to run wild. But he has a secret hobby: he wants to make movies, inspired by First Blood. Will becomes his stuntman, and the rest of the school, including supercool French exchange student Didier (Sitruk), want to get involved. Neither Will's mother (Hynes) nor Lee are impressed by this, albeit for different reasons, and the strains which result from his new hobby will threaten both the family and his new friendship.

It a lovely evocation of childish imagination, and how you can be entirely convinced of your own mad talents, even if what you're making is, in fact, utterly crap. It helps that the two kid leads are natural and come across as entirely unaffected, and this a very safe world - there's little sense of peril, even as the cinematic duo stage stunts which Jackie Chan would reject as too lethal. I'm not sure this is an entirely accurate portrayal: I seem to recall being about the only New Romantic kid at my school, but that was the far North of Scotland, where punk might as well have been happening in another country. It's also a bit too 'nice' to be completely convincing: school would have been utter hell for a "different" kid like Will. However, as a chocolatey fable, it works very nicely, with a warm heart that helps to ride over any such objections. Quite takes me back to my youth - or perhaps more likely, how I imagine it should have been.

[June 2010]

Kids' play
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