Its always nice to sit down and see some home grown cinema, more so when it’s nostalgic and harks back to an era before the world got smaller and being a Brit meant bad teeth, flares and a cuppa in hand.
The debut film from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, couldn’t say ‘70’s Brit any more than if it had David Bowie draped in the union jack singing God Save the Queen.
Boozing buddy trio, Snork, Bruce and Freddie are apparently desperate to leave the quiet suburbs of Cemetery Junction but Gervais and Merchant haven’t made the working class ‘burbs all that grim.
No parent dead like Billy Elliot. No job strikes like Brassed Off. In fact these boys have it pretty good and just strike as the average rebels without a cause. The Gervais/Merchant take on working class anger seems to pale in comparison to what has been seen before in Brit flicks.
Having produced comedic gold from the everyday mundane in The Office, repression could be expected to be laid on thick with a funny flare, but the idyllic countryside and quiet village life seems like a Haven’s holiday compared to the dismal offices of Slough.
Gervais and Merchant have played a master stroke of restraint in their story, avoiding clichéd romance but couldn’t seem to avoid the ‘good guy loves engaged girl’ storyline which is a pity. Freddie and Julie just didn’t have enough time invested from the audience as Tim and Dawn, which means their “romance” is sweet but not special.
Gervais leaves the serious stuff to his younger cast and plays his part in a worn out string vest that looks like it’s been pinched from Harold Steptoe. Playing the role of the 70’s politically incorrect father figure with great finesse, it’s interesting as to whether Gervais is parodying his own father who may have had a similar opinion on Ricky’s ambition to be in synth-pop wannabes, Seano-Dancing as Freddie’s father on being anything other than a factory worker.
Rolling in the aisles and crying at the happy ending you won’t be, but mildly amused and inspired to go for the things you really want in life, perhaps.
Showing off some great British talent both old and new and using some great tunes from Bowie to The Osmonds (and let’s face it, who doesn’t secretly enjoy The Osmonds?) Cemetery Junction is pleasing to both the eye and the ear and kudos is given to Merchant and Gervais for their ambitious but slightly lack-lustre stab at the big time.
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