Saturday, August 26, 2017

Son of Rambow




Written and directed by Garth Jennings, Son of Rambow is the story of two British schoolboys who spend their summer trying to make their own version of the Rambo movies seeing after First Blood. It’s a coming-of-age film that mixes fantasy and reality as it explore two boys trying to create something during the era of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. Starring Bill Milner, Will Poulter, Jules Sitruk, Jessica Stevenson, Neil Dudgeon, Anna Wing, and Ed Westwick. Son of Rambow is an imaginative and enchanting film from Garth Jennings.

The film follows a schoolboy from a religious family who meets a troubled boy at school where the two become friends where the latter takes him to his house as the former would see a bootlegged copy of First Blood for the very first time prompting the two to make their own Rambo movie. It’s a film that explore two boys who make a film for an upcoming contest during the course of the summer while they spend time in school where they both deal with their different backgrounds. Especially as the school is being host for a group of French exchange students where one of them would take part in the film project. Garth Jennings’ screenplay show the differing lives of the two boys in Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) and Lee Carter (Will Poulter) as the former is from a religious family that is very strict as Will is unable to watch television, listen to pop music, or do anything that could cause trouble among his brethren.

Lee is a boy from a mid-upper class family that runs a retirement home as he is constantly bullied and neglected by his older brother Lawrence (Ed Westwick) who prefers to spend time with his friends while his mother is away in Spain. The script would play into the two boys trying to make the film as they would bond during the course of everything as Will would deal with the fact that he’s got obligations by his brethren where he lives mainly with his mother, grandmother, and younger sister who are often visited by one of its key members in Brother Joshua (Neil Dudgeon). Though the film that Will and Lee create is just for them, Will’s sketchbook gets the attention of other students including a French exchange student in Didier (Jules Sitruk) who wants to participate as he and other students become involved much to Lee’s dismay as he was the film’s original director. Even as he feels neglected by Will who feels like he’s part of something much livelier in comparison to his strict upbringing with Lee still feeling like an outsider.

Jennings’ direction is definitely stylish in terms of not just the compositions he creates but also for its setting in the 1980s at a time when video equipment was becoming available to the public as well as an influx of music and film being available. Shot on location in Berkhamsted in Britain, the film does play into this idea of a small town nearby farmland but adjusting to modernist things such as cinemas. It’s a world that Will isn’t part of as Jennings establishes the world that Will is in with this amazing opening shot of him reciting scriptures from the bible in front of a cinema with all of these people from the brethren behind him in this gorgeous medium-wide shot. While much of Jennings’ compositions are simple, he would infuse it with some elements of imagination as it is largely told through the eyes of children who would see things that adults can’t. There are elements of animation in some parts of the film courtesy of Jennings as well as these scenes which is shot on video to play into something that does feel like a home movie but also has an element of joy into what these boys are creating.

Jennings’ direction also create something that is a bit of fantasy as the subplot relating to Didier shows someone who dresses very differently from everyone as many of the British kids who follow thinks he is the coolest person in school. Especially as there’s girls who line-up just to kiss him as it is quite comical as he feels more alive when he becomes part of the movie Will and Lee is creating with the latter feeling annoyed. Jennings would create something that has an air of whimsy which does play into this new world that Will is in as it is freeing and filled with spontaneity as opposed to something that is oppressive in his home life. The compositions at Will’s home life are more controlled with little bits of color to play the struggle that is looming as in scenes at Lee’s house which is posh but unruly due to the lack of adult supervision. All of which play into these two boys using someone like Rambo as an inspiration to escape the dreariness of their home lives for something much better. Overall, Jennings creates an evocative yet wondrous film about two British schoolboys making their own film inspired by Rambo.

Cinematographer Jess Hall does excellent work with the film’s colorful cinematography in creating different lighting moods for the different homes of Will and Lee as well as the grainy look of the video footage with some crude lighting that add to the charm of the home movies. Editor Dominic Leung does brilliant work with the editing as its usage of jump-cuts and other stylish cuts play into the humor and the energy that is prevalent throughout the film. Production designer Joel Collins, with set decorator Sara Neighbour and art director Robyn Paiba, does amazing work with the look of the sets from the design of the scarecrow to the look of the houses and places the characters go to. Costume designer Harriet Cawley does fantastic work with the look of the costumes the boys wear for their film as well as the clothes of Didier that is very stylish to play into the look of what was cool during the 1980s.

Makeup designer Nathalie Tissier does nice work with the look of some of the kids in the kind of makeup that was fashionable in the 1980s. Visual effects supervisor Jon Hollis does terrific work with some of the visual effects in the way some of Will’s drawings come to life as well as some sequences that play into his fantasies. Sound editor Joseph Stracey does superb work with the sound in creating some unique sound effects for the movie Will and Lee are creating as well as how music is presented on location. The film’s music by Jody Talbot is wonderful for its playful score with its usage of percussions and electronic music to play into the sense of adventure inspired by 80s action films while music supervisors Mick Clark and Sue Crawshaw create a fun soundtrack filled with music from the 80s from acts and artists like Gary Numan, the Cure, Nu Shooz, Duran Duran, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Depeche Mode, Blondie, Fun Boy Three, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, the Real Roxanne, and the Human League.

The casting by Susie Figgis is great as it feature some notable small roles and cameo appearances from filmmaker Edgar Wright as a metal shop teacher, the Scottish band Travis as other teachers at the teacher’s lounge, Asa Butterfield as a young boy who is part of the brethren, Tallulah Evans as Will’s younger sister Jess, Zofia Brooks as a teenage student named Tina who falls for Didier, Charlie Thrift as a student named Duncan Miller who would accompany Didier into his new surroundings as well as be his best friend, Adam Godley as the leader of the brethren, and Anna Wing as Will’s silent grandmother who doesn’t say much but knows what Brother Joshua is up to. Neil Dudgeon is superb as Brother Joshua as member of the brethren who has been helping out Will’s mother as well as try to be a father figure to Will yet does it in a forceful way. Jules Sitruk is fantastic as the French exchange student Didier as a kid wearing fashionable clothes and hair who becomes very popular at the school while wants to be in Will and Lee’s film to fulfill his desires as an actor.

Ed Westwick is excellent as Lee’s older brother Lawrence as a college kid who deals with having to take care of his younger brother as he prefers to hang out with friends and look cool while dealing with his mother’s absence. Jessica Stevenson is brilliant as Will’s mother Mary as a woman trying to make sure her son be good as she wonders why he hasn’t shown up for service as she becomes afraid of the path he’s taken. Bill Milner is incredible as Will Proudfoot as an 11-year old boy who discovers the movie First Blood as it opens a pathway to his imagination as Milner provides an energy and liveliness that is infectious to watch. Finally, there’s Will Poulter in a phenomenal performance as Lee Carter as a 13-year old troublemaker whose love of films has him wanting to make a movie to escape from his troubled life as Poulter provides that sense of angst but also anguish into the fact that he’s lonely and never had anyone to share his love for Rambo.

Son of Rambow is a spectacular film from Garth Jennings. Featuring a great cast, dazzling visuals, a cool soundtrack, and an engaging story, it’s a film that captures the sense of joy and imagination of two boys wanting to make their own version of their own hero in Rambo. In the end, Son of Rambow is a phenomenal film from Garth Jennings.

© thevoid99 2017

1 comment:

Wendell Ottley said...

Hadn't heard about this one, but it sounds like fun.