A heartwarming and funny coming-of-age tale set in a suburban village in the M4 corridor in the 70’s. It is set in the 70’s presumably as this is a time that Gervais and Merchant have a lot of comments to make on, but also in a specific year for plot reasons.
The story concerns 3 young lads from working-class backgrounds struggling to decide what they want to achieve from life and how to go about it. The film has a soft focus Summer-Meadows feel to the visuals, but for the most part the the town is painted as one of toiling away in the factory at the lathe. Ricky Gervais plays the Dad in one of the 50’s style households and although in it fairly infrequently is very funny when he is onscreen. Steven Merchant also has a funny cameo, but for the most part it’s the 3 lads (Christian Cooke and Tom Hughes are great), the gorgeous Felicity Jones and their families (Emily Watson has a great subdued role) who fill the screen.
The characters are painted rather broadly and the plot is not one that’s going to leave many people surprised, but they are well drawn and involving and there are so many nice touches along the way that it really doesn’t matter. The script has elements of Gervais and Merchant all over it and points out some of the more old fashioned aspects of 70’s viewpoints with a contemporary eye.
Some of the music complements the moods of the film perfectly and the soundtrack is good in general. The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin in particular, playing over the emotional closing scenes is almost enough to bring you to tears.
4 on 5
Directed: Ricky Gervais & Steven Merchant
Starring: Christian Cooke, Felicity Jones, Tom Hughes, Jack Doolan, Ricky Gervais, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Steve Speirs, Brian Gittins
UK Release: 14th April 2010