I’m not against feel-good, sentimentalised drama, if done well it can be very enjoyable, and this, I think falls in that category. The three lead males, Freddy, Bruce, Snork (Christian Cooke, Tom Hughes and Jack Doolan) were well cast, supported by a great script which allowed them to create rounded and believable characters. Special note to ‘funny’ guy Jack Doolan who manages to dance a difficult jog between comedy and tragedy with his character Snork – moving away from the slapstick temptation I’m sure would have been an easy route, based on the script.
Supported by screen powerhouse Ralph Fiennes and Emily Watson (who manage to keep their screen presence subtle and poignant) – especially the moment Mrs Kendrick talks about the last time she was thanked for a cup of tea.
But this family contrasted wildly to ‘Freddy’s - with Ricky-I-can-only-be-Brent Gervais as a buffoonish patriarch – so much so these scenes seemed crudely spliced in from a sitcom, entirely separate from the rest of the drama.
Watching the extras afterwards there was one scene which shouldn’t have been deleted as it gave so much more insight into Bruce. Desperate to get Freddy out for a drink, he takes the task of selling life insurance policies from him, and swiftly despatches five leads at a nearby funeral. It’s at that point you really understand the potential he has, which makes it all the sadder that he’s wasting it in Cemetery Junction.
If it didn’t have the odd cameos from Gervais and co, this would have been very good; sadly they add a jarring oddity to an otherwise heartfelt, nostalgic drama. Stick to the script writing.
3 out of 5 – mainly for the many genius one-liners (‘stop buying music made by puffs and get some Elton John’).
Continuity geekery – many of the houses in 1973 Reading apparently had double glazing. Owch.