Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Son of Rambow

This has been my best day ever

It's 1982 and First Blood has just been released. Sitting in the cinema is Lee Carter (Will Poulter), a young troublemaker who rather uncovertly films the whole film on a camera to make pirate copies. Through a series of events, Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner), who is a member of the strict Plymouth Brethren sect that do not allow their members to watch TV or films, sees the pirate copy and has his mind blown by the images on screen. The two strike up an unlikely friendship and end up making their own sequel to First Blood.

Garth Jennings' semi-autobiographical film, the events are partly inspired by his own childhood Rambo-esque film Aron: Part 1, is a highly idealised version of childhood and, although it is based very firmly in the 80s in terms of its styles, music and imagery, it is one that is very easy to relate to. For example, I for one really remember being fascinated by the Sixth Form Common Room at my college and imagining all sorts of amazing things that might go on in there. Seeing those sort of childish imaginings really appealed to me and typified the rather whimsical tone of the film.

Whimsy is all very and good, but Son of Rambow also has a solid story at its heart and a very believable relationship between Will and Carter. The two young actors are great together and have just the right sort of chemistry that you find with young boys who are just becoming friends but don't necessarily like each other right off the bat. Bill Milner, in particular, really manages to hold his own as a boy with a vibrant imagination who finally finds an outlet for it in film-making and is able to give some poignancy to the scenes involving his mother (played ably by Jessica Stevenson). Jules Sitruk is also fantastic as a French exchange student who wows all the students at the school and eventually joins up with Will and Carter to make the film.

It is the filming sequences that lend much of the comedy to the film, particularly when we get to see how it all fits together, and whilst this is a great strength for the film it does mean that the opening 20 minutes or so are not as funny as the rest of it. Introducing the characters and getting them together seems to take an age, though it is all important for the development of their characters as the film progresses. That's not to say that there aren't any laughs for the first 20 or 30 minutes of the film, just that it does take its time to hit its stride.

I found Son of Rambow to be utterly charming and really very sweet but without being saccharine. The two leads are engaging and hilarious, it manages to keep the laughs going even when the cameras aren't rolling, and the idealised, nostalgic tone is something that I found really quite wonderful.