Welcome to the first of a new regular feature for Casta (I hope) – the film community pot luck draw. Whilst Chris of the Wakemans has been off watching movies with other people, I’ve been sat in at home reading the internets. Luckily for me, the fantastic folks over at Anomalous Material have begun a new community feature whereby everyone nominates a movie and then they’re randomly assigned to all those taking part who watch the movie and post back on the site with their thoughts on whatever they had to watch. It’s a fantastic feature and gets some great discussion going – it’s always the more the merrier so if you fancy joining in then head over there and sign yourself up!
This week Marc from Go, See, Talk nominated the film that I was eventually paired up with; Cemetery Junction.
Despite my hesitation towards Gervais and Merchant, I was actually really pleased to be paired up with this movie as I narrowly missed the opportunity when it was out at the cinema this year; I’d heard some quite good things about it and was interested to see how this would weigh in against previous collaborations from Gervais and Merchant.
Cemetery Junction tells the story of three young men who are all looking to make something out of their lives in a middle to lower class working town in early seventies England. It’s a more than typical coming of age story that stands out because of the quality of the three leads and how relatable their situation is. The setting works surprisingly well (obviously drawing on Gervais and Merchant’s own youths) and is really reinforced by one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in recent memory. I had a great time watching this movie and there were numerous occasions where I had to stifle laughter in slight disbelief at the raw seventies dialogue.
The only thing that stood out to me about this movie to be particularly annoying was the appearances of Gervais and Merchant on screen. As much as I enjoyed their writing and found their direction to be relatively inoffensive, their roles in front of the camera felt completely obsolete and bordered on indulgent. Gervais is basically the same as he is in every other role he’s ever done and Merchant appears in the most needless five second cameo I’ve seen in recent times. It’s a shame really that they felt compelled to give themselves roles as it adds a certain branding onto the movie which I would have thought they might have been keen to move against being as this is somewhat of a departure from other things they have written in the past.
All in all it’s a very competent coming of age/ making something of your life movie, with a strong young cast in the lead roles and a solid support behind them, especially in the form of Ralph Fiennes who adds a good deal of gravitas to the movie. For me, it stands as an interesting indicator as to what could come from Gervais and Merchant in the future; I just hope they keep themselves out of their movies in the future and concentrate on the behind the scenes elements, instead saving screen time for movies in which they are the principal cast.
A highly enjoyable and recommended watch for anyone who ever felt like they wanted to make something out of their life and can stand a bit of close to the bone seventies humour.