Thursday, May 7, 2009

SON OF RAMBOW (Garth Jennings, 2007, UK) A young boy is oppressed by the weight of his conservative upbringing, a strict religion that smothers individuality, but discovers Art and creativity is a valuable tool in understanding the cruel death of his father. Director Garth Jennings uses genre convention to establish a rather mundane narrative, though the child actors help to elevate the film above bland cliché. Though the film’s theme is hackneyed: two boys from disparate upbringings form a blood-brother bond of friendship, Jennings infuses the story with some interesting flourishes such as making the bully come from a wealthy family and Will from a poor background. Jennings also sets the film in the early 1980’s and uses some cool music from Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Cure, and Depeche Mode. The heart of the film concerns Lee bullying Will into helping him make a film for the BBC contest SCREEN TEST and their fraternal bond that ensues from their familial struggles and conflicts. But the characters plod along on pedestrian paths and their actions never become totally believable: this is the writer’s hand evident behind the scene, like strings on marionettes. Of course, this feel good movie leads us to a tearful resolution where all involved reach emotional epiphany and all pain leads to a happy ending. If only life where really like that. (C)

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