Rating: 10 out of 10
It’s been a little while since I wanted to rally around a film, wanted to wave the banners high and drag people in off the street to make sure it gets the attention it deserves. This, my friends, is on of those special moments. I actually went into a free screening of this without knowing anything at all about the story. I only had a brief assumption that there was a level of comedy involved from the poster showing a small child in goggles and the name “Rambow” being spelled wrong. What I found inside that darkened theater was heart, longing for friendship, loyalty and a level of childlike innocence not seen since Stand by Me. It whisks us all back to those days when those images on the screen spawned not just a “willing suspension of disbelief” as we are told to have, but it was full on belief itself. Pedal to the metal, bear hugging belief.
Son of Rambow surrounds an odd pairing of two boys, Lee Carter (played by Will Poulter) and Will Proudfoot (played by Bill Milner). Lee is the school hellion, kicked out of class on a daily basis, while Will comes from a Plymouth Brethren family and is not allowed to watch television, so he is also sent out into the hallway from class and there he gets roped into the tornado that is Lee Carter. Their friendship starts out only as a means for Lee to finish a film he wants to enter into a young filmmakers competition, but during the making of their masterpiece they end up building much more than a fictional world, they construct a lifelong friendship. Along the way they do hit bumps in the road, including the dashing and dynamic French exchange student Didier (played by Jules Sitruk) who adds himself as the main actor of their film under the codename “The Wolf”.
As well written and well directed this film is, it’s true power and charm come from the performances. Out of those three main boys, only Jules had ever done any acting whatsoever before this movie. Will and Bill brought that unattainable innocence and youth to the film and it reaches out and touches each and every audience member. I was actually lucky enough to see a Q&A with the writer/director Garth Jennings (greatest work to date: Son of Rambow, but deserves a special mention for the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and his directing/producing partner Nick Goldsmith, who when they work together go under the production banner Hammer & Tongs. Seeing the youthful exuberance of Jennings and his barely contained glee at getting this story to the screen only helped to bolster it’s appeal. One of the many notes he mentioned was the two lead boys became great friends during the shoot and now go on holiday together with their families. That kind of art imitating life moment cannot be planned, it can only be witnessed and when you are lucky enough to see that bond forming on camera (as we all witnessed with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. & Mrs. Smith) that film will go down in history.
Grab your coat, get a ticket and sit your ass down in the theater when this is released on May 2. If a smile doesn’t sneak it’s way onto your face and into your heart by the end of the film, well, you should schedule a doctor’s appointment immediately, I think you might be one of the walking dead.