cast: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine

director: Richard Ayoade

97 minutes (15) 2010

widescreen ratio 16:9
Optimum DVD Region 2

RATING: 10/10

review by J.C. Hartley

This is a tremendous coming-of-age type story adaptation, and the directorial debut of Richard Ayoade, a stalwart of TV’s The Mighty Boosh, and as Moss from The IT Crowd. Ayoade has made a bit of a name for himself with pop videos – check out the grim realisation of Kasabian’s Vlad The Impaler, with Noel Fielding stabbing unwitting campers with a big fuck-off lance. This little film has got auteurs in a tizzy with its use of natural light, and Ayoade is being compared to Wes Anderson for his indie vision. Ayoade’s next feature is apparently an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s The Double, starring Jesse Eisenberg, so well done him.

Outsider Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) who, like The Young Ones‘ Rik believes himself to be beloved of all his contemporaries, even going so far as fantasising national mourning on his death, has an unrequited crush on stroppy pyromaniac classmate Jordana (the quite brilliant Yasmin Paige). When Oliver allows himself to be publicly abused and accused of being a Gaylord rather than denounce Jordana as a slut, the pair begin a relationship.

Oliver’s parents are going through a rocky patch in their wedding, observed by Oliver with particular reference to their use of the bedroom dimmer switch to denote sexual activity. The strain on the relationship is compounded by the arrival of Graham (Paddy Considine), self-promoting new age guru and a former boyfriend of Oliver’s mum Jill (Sally Hawkins). Graham and his Eurasian partner move in opposite where Oliver observes them through binoculars “Ninjas!” The stress in Oliver’s life is increased when Jordana reveals that her mother may have a terminal illness. Oliver contemplates poisoning Jordana’s dog to prepare her for the eventual loss of her mother but the dog dies in a railway line accident anyway.

Oliver, rather than giving Jordana the support she clearly needs, then distances himself to focus on his concerns regarding what he sees as his mother and Graham’s nascent affair. Oliver reveals himself to be emotionally deficient in dealing with his responsibility to Jordana and the role he has taken on in saving his parents’ marriage. His self-obsession is cruelly punished but he gradually shifts himself away from the centre of the universe and the film ends with some hopeful images about the pairs’ relationship.

This film is far from being as drippy as it sounds. Jordana is a tough but vulnerable kid, and Oliver’s gauche social stumbling is suitably cringe-making. Oliver’s dad, Lloyd (Noah Taylor) is an out of work and depressed oceanographer who had a stint as an Open University lecturer and still sports the look. Graham’s new-age presentation, on human beings as creatures of light, is bonkers bollocks but enough to turn the head of Oliver’s bored and unappreciated mum. Not that Graham is a cynical manipulator, when a drunken Oliver ransacks his house Graham quietly deposits the unconsciousness boy on his parents’ step and sneaks away after ringing the bell. The film looks great, with the natural light enhanced by fire, sunsets, sunrises, seascapes and stuff. The music is by Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner.A humble effort of a debutant director is this movie, which is well made and supported with good camera skills all is a well-extended version of what happens next series of movies with the suspense content like the Qprofit system of trading. It finishes with a good thought which becomes the highlight of the whole movie.

A host of DVD extras include a director and novel author commentary, cast and crew interviews and Q&A, a music video, Graham’s self-help video Through The Prism, deleted and extended scenes, the obligatory ubiquitous tosh from Ben Stiller, test shoots, and a trailer.