24 October, 2006

Starter for Ten

The preview of this bestselling-novel-turned film was an understatement and a half, last night. There was a distinct lack of showgirls, red carpets or marauding press on Union Street in Bristol. This was partly because the press have had their screenings weeks before, and partly because the celebrity attendance was a two-man behind-the-screen affair. The writer and the director introduced it and stuck around for questions afterwards. I guess this is why - so that a little word of mouth goes a long way.

The film starts with an unrecognisably youthful and bad-skinned James McAvoy (who appeared in Shameless and the recent version of Macbeth on the BBC) having his interview for a place on an English course at Bristol University.

It spectularly remained understated the whole way through, with the lead character's emotional crises being exactly the kind of thing I went through at Uni. The cast were pretty, but not drenched in the kind of senseless glamour and sheen that an American campus movie has and the plot was gritty and real enough to be believable, but enough also to keep the film moving along fast enough.

Tom Hanks notoriously bought the rights to this film, and sadly (for the British film industry) it is a largely American-funded film. However, the good thing about it is just that it is so very darned British. Maybe, as a Bristolian, I am being over-homely about this film, though.

Catherine Tate also does a good turn as the mother. Holds the role down well, but I'm too used to seeing her in a rubber mask to believe in her character.

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