Saturday, 3 May 2008

Son of Rambow

Although older generations may be aghast at the thought of ten year olds watching Rambo: First Blood, I myself never batted an eye.
Back in the 80s, when the movie was set, it may have seemed less common.
Son of Rambow tells the story of two young boys who meet accidentally in the school corridors. Lee Carter (Will Poulter), the school rebel, ropes the younger, naïve Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) into being a stuntman for the movie he is hoping to send in to a competition.
While at the nursing home where Lee’s family reside, the imaginative Will accidentally sees Rambo, and is inspired to create his own story wherein he is the renegade’s son.
Lee is initially keen to cooperate, but as Will’s creativity spreads around the school, and the allure of fame is potent among the other students, Lee becomes increasingly left out. It turns from a “just the two of us” style jaunt to a fully blown amateur blockbuster with more extras than the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Will is thrilled to be at the centre of all this attention, and his blood-brother status with Lee becomes sour.
Of the three sub-plots in the film, the foreign exchange students turn out to be the best. The radical, individual French student Didier Revol (a memorable performance by Jules Sitruk) comes strolling into a quintessentially English school wearing his red boots and earring, and causes quite a stir. Initially I didn’t know whether the character was a boy or a girl. Even after a scene in which he had evidently kissed about ten girls I was still unsure.
Didier quickly acquires a fan base and his own personal escort, but after experimenting with various dangerous and amusing ways to light a cigarette, becomes bored until he learns about Rambow. He offers his services as a very over the top actor, and then the floodgates open.
The stories involving the two boys’ backgrounds are more emotive. Lee’s parents are away, leaving himself and his older brother Lawrence (Ed Westwick) to run the home. Will’s father had previously passed away, so he and his sister are brought up by their mother (Jessica Hynes), a devout member of a religious group named The Brethren, whose draconian rules make it difficult for him to meet up with Lee.
The nostalgia factor is immense. From the wood-surround televisions to the easily smeared lipstick to the old Fairy Liquid bottle, every shot had something to find to make me smile. Will could ride his bike and run along the middle of the road without fear of being hit by a car, and there were no ‘elf ‘n’ safety people to ruin their rather dangerous stunts.
Through the colours of the locations, director Garth Jennings even makes the film look as though it was shot in the 80s, but with a better quality camera. The sixth form common room was quite something to behold.
The two young actors are rightly the stars of the show. The chemistry between their contrasting characters is just right, and they carry their emotional and tempestuous scenes well.
Although the comedy is not always laugh out loud funny, the innocence and sweet charm of it is, like the movie, guaranteed to raise a smile.

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