April 17th, 2008

breaking bad

Son of Rambow

Wednesday was set aside for doing Family Stuff. My daughter asked me to take her to see Son of Rambow. I wouldn't have gone except at her request and I settled down with a feeling of resignation. But in fact I enjoyed it a great deal. It's a low budget kids' comedy, an anglo-french co-production. It describes a couple of weeks in the life of two schoolboys in the early 1980s: two misfits (one a rough kid, one from the Plymouth Brethren) who are thrown together and decide to make an amateur action film called 'Son of Rambow'. Half way through they recruit an absurdly glamorous Bolan-alike French exchange student called Didier as co-star.

The audience were laughing, and I personally was crying, off and on throughout. The boy from the fundamentalist family has a massive fantasy life, and this occasionally spills into the film in the form of bright raw animation scribbled-on to the film stock. I wish they'd had much more of that actually. It's unclear how much of what we see is real and how much is through childlike eyes. The sixth form common room for instance is like a nightclub, with popping candy and coca-cola instead of poppers and coke.

The values are humanist and warm. Jessica Stephenson (Jessica Hynes now) gives a sympathetic performance as the fundie mum, frightened of imagination.

Incidentally, when the boys try ill-advised dangerous stunts, I found myself calling out 'No!' at the screen, and amusingly I heard a dad a few rows behind me saying the same thing. Parents eh?