Banshees of Inisherin – Review

Cast: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan
Directed and written by Martin McDonagh
Length: 114mins

Powerhouses of the acting world, Brendon Gleeson and Colin Farrell are at odds once again, with the lines they deliver coming straight from the mind of writer-director Martin McDonagh. Unlike this trilogy’s previous success with the darkly comic excellence of ‘In Bruges’, the historical Belgium cityscape has been exchanged for fictional Irish isle, Inisherin. A timid land off the west coast of Ireland, home to little more than a few hardened drinking holes, and a port necessary for a quick route off the place. Our story begins when Pádraic (Farrell), discovers that longtime drinking buddy Colm no longer wants to knock back pints of Guinness each day at 2pm, for some unknown reason. The fallout from this simple decision results in one of the most intriguing and engaging narratives which has played out on the big screen this year. 

Although Pádraic might pester Colm constantly throughout the film in search of a reason for his abandonment of their friendship, there’s another question put to Colm on multiple occasions throughout this film. On two separate visits to a priest’s confessional booth, after the everyday sins have been accounted for, the question of, “How is the despair?”, is asked. The film never mentions any recent loss or great tragedy in Colm’s life, and yet this inquiry immediately puts a more sympathetic touch to the tinges of the man’s harshness. Suddenly, his unexpected end to a longstanding friendship takes on a new perspective, and Colm turns from a stoic and unkind man, to a victim of some recurring suffering. McDonagh’s manipulation of language has always been an essential part of what makes his filmmaking so entertaining and engaging, and ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ only reinforces these talents. Characters on that damned island seem only to have to lift a finger to change the lives of those around them, and it’s within these small mistakes that the director digs at the roots of a greater tragedy. Although only asked explicitly to Colm in these moments of confession, there’s a despair which hangs over the occupants of all who inhabit Inisherin, and I imagine most would verbally fight back if asked the question in such a director manner – and yet the harshest of them all seems to be the only one who faces the question head on. 

The island’s landscape is visually stunning, and is often called upon to bookmark a particularly impactful or poignant scene. Characters are beckoned to from across expansive lakes, gaze longingly from clifftops, and stare endlessly at the ocean swirling inside a pint glass. However, these moments of sublime natural beauty imply a story which centres on slow-burning scenes and deep-thinking characters. This may be true for some aspects of the film, but the rest is formed of quick-witted dialogue flying to and fro, amongst scenes ranging from the hilarious to the bizarre. Though the island and its inhabitants may experience great periods of bleakness, there’s a great energy running throughout ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, owed in large part to its tightly-woven script and impressively talented cast.

Martin McDonagh delivers a film which ranks equal with the strength of his previous collaboration with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. The film begins from a simple premise, but quickly grows into something far greater – a story not to be missed.

Emily – Review. 

Rating: 15 Cast: Emma Mackey, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Adrian Dunbar and Fionn Whitehead. Directed by Frances O’Connor. Written by Frances O’Connor. Length: 130mins. 

Emily is a loosely biographical drama about the Wuthering Heights author Emily Bronte which covers the years leading up to Brontë writing her novel, which is about cruel and haunted characters who play devastating games with love and social status. 

Frqancis O’Connor has made a really impressive debut as a writer and director with this glimpse of Emily Brontë, intelligently played by rising star Emma Mackey. It’s beautifully acted, creatively shot,  and nicely imagined. There were a few unusal moments with the editing, making scene changes a bit clunky and, at moments, questioning if there were technical glitches; but it just seemed to be harsh cuts that were used two or three times throughout. Emily manages to capture the Victorian era with a slight contemporary feel. Not modern in that post-Bridgerton sense, instead, the movie feels modern in the way it imagines Brontë’s reclusive nature and emotional swings with consideration towards trauma, depression and other possible mental health issues that we have the language for and understanding of today. The characters in the film can’t diagnose these things, but a contemporary audience will spot the signs that O’Connor subtly layers into the role, allowing it’s audience to be aware, but not let the issues detract from the progression of the story. 

 Mackey’s portrayal, excellent as it is, may be smoother around the edges and less windblown than the real thing but that’s not really a surprise, her skill seems to be so layered and each role, including this gritty, emotional period character, shows audiences her depth as a performer and I can’t wait to continue to watch her career grow. Adrian Dunbar, unsurprisingly, presents a solid character in Patrick Bronte, leaving his audiences searching for the moments of warmth and approval that the leading character spends so much of the film seeking as well. His performance allows the audience to empathise even more with the lead, which is a very generous trait for an supporting actor and also suggests deliberate and strong direction. 

While technically I think this was a good film with strong performances, and a really strong debut for O’Connor it did lack something. It’s visually quite dark, which although sounds like a small thing, it makes it a little more difficult to engage and stay focussed throughout. Some of this of course will be due to the time period and the miserable weather but it still has an impact on the audience. Personally I found it quite tricky to really invest in what was in front of us, Mackey’s Bronte isn’t particularly likeable and neither is Weightman – actually, none of the characters are very likeable with possibly the exception of Branwell, but even then it’s not an overwhelming likeability.  For me to truly enjoy a film I need to back characters to some degree and if you aren’t drawn to anything about anyone it makes the viewing experience a tricky one. My rating is purely for that reason, it’s a good film – just not for me.  

Don’t Worry, Darling – Review

Cast: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan and Kiki Layne
Directed by Olivia Wilde
Written by Katie Silberman, Shane Van Dyke and Carey Van Dyke
Length: 123mins

An intriguing tale of an unsettlingly pleasant American utopia, an all-star cast featuring some of the biggest names in todays film and music industry, as well as a story chock full of references to great cinematic landmarks which came before – Olivia Wilde’s latest feature sets out to be an extremely promising trip to the cinema. However, audiences have experienced many different reactions to the film, and though the consensus seems to be that ‘Dont Worry, Darling’ is far from as strong a film as the director’s 2019 debut, ‘Booksmart’, there’s still a great deal to discuss.

Aside from the ambitious storyline and the twisting narrative, the first thing most audiences seem to have highlighted after stepping from the darkness of the big screen and back into daylight, is Florence Pugh. Her leading role as Alice, the doting housewife to a charming, yet traditional husband, is undeniably the film’s greatest strength. Her performance maintains a great energy and passion throughout, which is perfectly reigned in for moments for tenderness and shock. The film often acts as a test of her characters’ stability, and Florence Pugh walks this line with the grace of a ballet dancer. Harry Styles takes up the role of Jack, the aforementioned 1950’s all-American husband, despite his British origins. In truth, it would be difficult for any performer to match the talents of Pugh as their co-star, but rather than the strength of the couple together elevating the inexperience of Styles, it seems to only highlight the issue in greater detail. As charming as he may be, there’s definitely a little clunk to his movements and delivery which may smoothen out in the years to come.

‘Don’t Worry, Darling’ is a beautiful film to watch. The American suburbia which filmmakers seem to love to corrupt, remains as entrancing, yet unsettling, as ever. A repeated reference to Ridley Scott’s ‘Thelma and Louise’, pays homage to one of the greatest female-led films released, but can quickly draw the audience into making comparisons between the two, which often seems to work against ‘Don’t Worry, Darling’s’ favour. Despite this, as simply a film to take in visually, whilst you recline into the comfort of your cinema seat, there’s a great deal to love here. The sets are intriguingly detailed, the cameras capture everything with a rich warmth, and moments of unexpected thrill wash over you in captivating bursts.

In terms of story, the film sadly seems to fall completely at its own squeakily-polished feet. The first ten minutes sets up what could evolve into a captivating narrative, but very quickly begins to meander into a dull repetitiveness, only to suddenly throw everything it seems to have forgotten to mention at the audience in the final half an hour. There are moments which absolutely need to be seen to be believed, but so much potential is wasted on unmotivated actions and inexplicable storylines. Amongst the ever-confusing actions of some characters, as well as the equally unengaging plot devices which seem to pop up only to further bamboozle audiences, there may be hidden a great film, but sadly ‘Don’t Worry, Darling’ most likely won’t be remembered as one.

The Lost King – Review. 

Rating: 12A Cast: Sally Hawkins, Steve Coogan, Harry Lloyd, Mark Addy and James Fleet. Directed by Stephen Frears. Written by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope. Length: 108mins.

In The Lost King, Sally Hawkins’s plays amateur historian-sleuth Philippa Langley who gets to butt heads with the archaeological establishment as she pursues her dream to find the mortal remains of King Richard III, as story well known to many and not too long ago… 

When Philippa reads a biography of Richard III that highlights the disconnect between his reputation and his “true” self, she resolves to set the record straight. So, after a couple of pub meetings with fellow Richard III fans, she’s banging on the doors of the establishment, seeking funding to dig up Richard’s bones, which she has become convinced lie under a car park in Leicester. 

The Lost King is an okay film – its plot is its focus and while based on true events it’s really about shining the light on a part of British history, and more importantly brings attention to Phillipa Langley and what she achieved while others took (partial) credit for her work. 

It lacks interesting characters which is fine due to the ‘point’ of the film, but I felt like the film makers were aware of this and pushed a bit too hard on some of the choices around the character of Phillipa. Obviously, I don’t know her – I hadn’t actually heard of her until watching this film, so I may be wrong, but it felt like the focal character was a woman who struggled with ME, had perhaps not been taken too seriously throughout her life but had the grit and determination to research and fight for her ultimate goals trusting her gut instinct, even when no one else was interested. While elements of this came across, the character of Phillipa was painted in a very feeble way. She came across as a bit weak, naive and the choice to include an imaginary King Richard who appears at various points throughout the film suggested mental illness to some degree, and yet this was never addressed and so I can only assume that this was a creative choice to try to add an extra ‘something’ to the film. It didn’t work in my opinion, it distracted from Phillipa’s hard work, made it a little cartoonish and didn’t really serve a purpose. 

The Lost King is filled with a top billed cast and I can’t fault the work that they did, unfortunately what didn’t work seemed to filter down from creative choices which is a shame because the target audience for a film like this would, in my opinion, have been equally happy with a basic telling of the story without embellishments or imaginary Kings. 

It’s important to recognise that with all retellings, or ‘dramatisations’ of true events there are always two sides to a story and one side will often be painted as the villain while the other a hero. As far as I can tell, real life Langley has said that she was indeed “sidelined and marginalised” by the academics, but representatives of the University have accused The Lost King of creating “an artificial narrative of a sexist, male-dominated university [by] removing all the key female academic leads”, with real life Buckley also complaining that “there is no truth to our department being under threat of closure or my job being on the line” and describes these plot points as “just nonsense”. I think the characters probably need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but focus should be on the telling of Ms Langley’s story and the incredible discovery that was made because of it.  

The Lost King is an easy and relatively interesting watch with small splashes of humour throughout. It’s not going to impact anyones life in a big way but is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, if you enjoy a true story without high drama then this is probably for you.  

Moonage Daydream – Review

Rating: 15
Featuring: David Bowie, Iman, Mick Ronson, Lou Reed, Brian Eno
Directed by Brett Morgen
Length: 135mins

The Earth’s favourite spaceman, David Bowie is perhaps one of the most untouchable prophets of the twenty-first century. The incredible output of music, performance and all-round allure which surrounded this man for nearly fifty years remains a feat of charisma which I would be hard-pressed to find comparisons with. Musically, Bowie remains an inspiration for all musicians alike, dancing from funk to punk, ambient to electronic, then back to glam rock, with a slender finger seemingly always resting upon the pulse of what the musical world needed most. Now, just over five years since his death, ‘Moonage Daydream’ seeks to relive the adventures of this singular man, with a documentary as ambitious as its subject.

The film sets out to divide the many apparitions of Bowie by decade, painting a vivid picture through sound and vision of the achievements and experiences which defined every ten years of the artists’ life. What makes for a fascinating seventies era, with the rise of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane captivating young crowds, as well as the later experimental tours of Station to Stations’ ‘The Thin White Duke,’ and Brian Eno and Tony Visconti’s incredible contributions to the music throughout the Berlin trilogy, can ultimately make the rest of the film feel as if it’s trying to summit these same peaks which formed early within Bowie’s career. Whilst there’s nothing wrong in exploring avenues of the artist’s life which stray from his musical output in later years, the film attempts to fill up these other eras with anything and everything that the man got up to, and as a result can often feel as if the narrative has lost its way amongst vaguely-strung narration and repetitive visuals. 

Perhaps the greatest thing to come from ‘Moonage Daydream’s release is the gloriously remastered visuals from throughout Bowie’s expansive career, as well as the opportunity to hear his equally expansive recordings through a cinema-sized sound system. What the film lacks in a consistency to its experimental take on a life well lived, it makes up for in its specific sequences. The early uprising of Bowie and his band at the beginning of the 1970’s, as well as his later explorations across various continents, from the beaten streets of Europe’s Berlin to Asia’s Singapore, are shown in compassionate detail, capturing the exact emotions we can only estimate that Bowie was feeling at the time, in a way which perhaps only film can truly achieve.

There’s a great film somewhere within the extravagances and meanderings of ‘Moonage Daydream’. Hidden amongst the short and equally vague voiceovers is a story of a tormented artist who took the world for his own through music, fashion, art, film and everything in between. And for the moment, the best way to have a look for yourself is to take a seat at the cinema, and let this ambitious piece of filmmaking wash over you for a few fantastical hours.

Ticket to Paradise – Review. 

Rating: 12A                                                                                                                                                       Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Kaitlyn Dever, Maxime Bouttier and Billie Lourde.                     Directed by Ol Parker.                                                                                                                             Written by Ol Parker and Daniel Pipski.                                                                          Length: 104mins. 

Ticket to Paradise is a contemporary romantic comedy that see’s Georgia (Roberts) and David (Clooney) as bitter ex’s, thrown together again when they find out that their daughter has fallen in love in Bali on her post-graduation trip, and decided to get married to a local seaweed farmer instead of return to the US to become a lawyer.  

We are given a solid understanding of the unhappy split between our two movie parents early on in the film, as well as a glimpse at the strain it’s put on their daughter (Dever). They do a good job at not rushing into the main story – it’s a fairly run of the mill rom com in that we can see from the trailer, possibly even the poster, the main events, but I found the backstory/ run up to the engagement actually really helpful in moving this film out of ‘just a cheesy rom com’ and into a genuinely amusing story with real people type characters rather than just archetypes. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of clichés and a couple of exaugurated, cartoonish characters but that’s not the attention pulling factor.  

Obviously, the main draw of this film is it’s cast. George Clooney and Julia Roberts are amazing. While not the deepest script or characters to dig into they approach their roles with all of their experience and it shows. The comic timing and commitment is just at the right level and I can only imagine being another actor on that set and just watching the masterclass unfold. 

Parker’s script, co-written with Daniel Pipski, is more sentimental than it is humorous. It’s rooted in a parent’s fear that their children are such perfect remakes of themselves that they’re bound to repeat the same mistakes, which again, adds layers to this lovely, picturesque world and avoids the laziness of ‘easy’ rom com writing. Although more sentimental, the humour is definitely there, more in the language that the more slapstick moments like the vicious dolphin attack…but there’s enough in there to keep things light.  

All in all it’s just a solid film for its genre. I know some people will think it’s weak if they don’t particularly enjoy romantic comedies but to look at it within it’s genre, I think it’s really quite strong. It feels like it’s a movie that Ol Parker wanted to make, the care in the details makes it more in line with the era of solid romantic comedies, rather than the more cheesey ‘Hallmark’ type films we see much more regularly today.  

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial – Review

Cast: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Robert MacNaughton, Peter Cyote and Dee Wallace
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Melissa Mathison
Length: 115mins

Back in 1981, E.T. may have perhaps been considered among Steven Spielberg’s crowning achievements. The director was thirty five at the time of its release, but already had an impressive back-catalogue containing ‘Jaws’, ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and the first Indiana Jones film to boast. However, ‘E.T.’ showed for the first time a true understanding of childlike wonder which would later define much of Spielberg’s work. The doe-eyed expression displayed by Elliott throughout most of the film, as he gazes with a mix of wonder and fear at the possibility of a new friend who he’s discovered, but one that looks different enough to warrant a degree of uncertainty, is how so many of us would have seen the world at that age, and tenderly pulls the audience back towards their childhood, whether they were born in the eighties or any other era. That’s why, fourty years on, Spielberg’s filmmaking has the ability to draw in viewers with equal captivity, as they lose themselves in this fantastical tale once again.

Known for his striking visuals and symbolic compositions within films, Spielberg remains on top form throughout ‘E.T.’. Moments of uncertainty are quite literally shrouded in fog, whilst the threat of an unknown government agency, set to steal Elliott’s friend away from him appears as anonymous and sinister, as each shot with adults shown spends the entire scene ensuring that they’re hardly present. There’s a huge emphasis on a childlike perspective on events, and by telling a story through a symbolic approach to visuals, rather than simply just how they play out, the film develops an added layer of complexity to what could be a light-hearted and fairly simple tale, much like ‘The Goonies’ a few years later. (Not to say ‘The Goonies’ could ever be improved in any way, that film is perfect exactly as it comes.)

Although the edges around E.T.’s prosthetic complexion may now show up as a little more unbelievable than viewers might have taken the time to notice back in 1981, and the visual effects may leave a great deal to the imagination, it’s the motivation behind these moments which matter more than the actual visuals themselves. To see a gang of biker kids having their wheels lifted from the ground appears so exciting to the audience because they understand the joy that such a moment would have inspired in them at that age, rather than being brought down by any slightly dated effects. 

‘E.T. the Extra Terrestrial’ was a massive hit upon its release in the early eighties, and has clearly had a great impact on popular culture, with TV shows like ‘Stranger Things’ in recent years taking so much inspiration from the film that Spielberg probably deserves a writing credit. Whilst a modern viewer might write it off simply as another dated nostalgia-fest, there’s a great deal more to enjoy about ‘E.T.’ than you may first think, and to go back to the cinema and see it all play out on the big screen is something absolutely worth enjoying.

See How They Run – Review. 

Rating:12A                                                                                                                                                       Cast: Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson, Harris Dickinson and Pearl Chandra.                                                 Directed by Tom George.                                                                                              Written by Mark Chappell.                                             Length: 98mins. 

See How They Run is a brilliantly likable whodunnit spoof centred on Agatha Christie’s long running play, The Mousetrap. It is expanded as a brutal homicide takes place backstage in its London West End theatre in 1953 during a party celebrating 100 performances. 

The concept see’s a brash Hollywood director (Brody) who plans to transition the famous play to a movie who, after seeing him upset one or two of our company, is murdered in the costume department. Sam Rockwell is brought in as lead investigating officer with an overeager, movie loving assistant (Ronan) to take charge of the situation and solve the murder under the scrutiny of their seniors. 

There’s a very entertaining silliness to See How They Run and I actually think it’s a brilliantly clever idea. While widely described as a spoof – it takes itself very seriously which is the main reason it works, there’s no slapstick here. Director Tom George appears to deeply trust his script, written by Mark Chappell, and allows the humour to flow from the dialogue, of course, through deeply hilarious performers – particularly Ronan with her doe-eyed expressions, innocent optimism and wonderful comic timing. With the confidence in the dialogue, it allows the director to really play with the cinematography which has a kind of Wes Anderson feel to it.  

Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell are a duo that work wonderfully well together, two very experienced actors who throw everything into the quirky characters that they have in front of them. The ensemble cast is not lacking in experience either – David Oyelowo fits beautifully into his role as the scorned writer, Brody seems to enjoy his time as the cocky director turned victim and honestly there’s not really a weak link in the whole cast. 

Part of this movies genius is that it’s not trying to trick the audience. The villain isn’t necessarily obvious, but you can comfortably walk down the path they lead you and probably work it out before the big reveal – allowing the audience the satisfaction of feeling a part of the mystery without having to pay too much attention and to enjoy the moments of poking fun at perhaps more serious films in the same genre. 

This is an easy film with no pretensions, entirely without the deadly seriousness with which Agatha Christie is now adapted and is the opportunity to watch some world class performers having a bit of fun. It’s nice to see Tom George making some creative choices that aren’t necessarily the obvious ones and is well written by Mark Chappell. I would absolutely recommend going to see this film in the cinema, particularly for a bit of a laugh and a solid dose of escapism.  

Pistol – Review

Cast: Toby Wallace, Anson Boon, Louis Partridge, Christian Lees, Sydney Chandler, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Tallulah Riley
Directed by Danny Boyle
Based on the novel by Steve Jones
Length: 270mins

I’m sure if you asked any of the members of the Sex Pistols back in 1977 what they thought of Disney, there’d most likely follow a string of profanities too lurid to be repeated amongst the pages of such an innocent blog as this. The punk band which formed amongst a culture of truly unique characters, with genuine belief in what they stood for, and the energy to fight what they stood against, the Pistols made their mark on British culture in a way many would compare to that of a teabag left too long upon a newspaper. But in truth their revolutionary attitudes, style and most importantly, music, has influenced generations to follow. Of course, no such historical event can take place without a fictionalised account being retold within the annuls of film or tv history, meaning the story of a truly radical group has been left in the entirely opposingly sanitary hands of conglomerate Disney, as well as revered director Danny Boyle, who may still find traces of dirt beneath his fingernails from the grit of his early films.

There’s a lot to tell in a story such as this. Guitarist Steve Jones’ maintains the basis of the plot this time round, but when placed beside previous films about the era – Julien Temples’ enigmatic ‘The Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’, or the desolation of Alex Coxs’ ‘Sid and Nancy’ – the truth can become more of a forgotten commodity. Despite this, the six fourty-five minute episodes manage to cover most of the key events – John Lydon’s infamous jukebox audition in Viv Westwoods’ ‘SEX’ shop, the truly unforgettable Bill Grundy interview, as well as later acts of anarchic wisdom, such as the House of Commons-adjacent boat trip performance by the band. It’s such a rich story, filled with history in the forms of people, clothing, attitudes and sound, that these key elements of the story can all be utilised to draw in the viewer, allowing them to understand in greater detail why such a rebellion in the late 1970’s came into being.

As an actual TV series, ‘Pistol’ does take an episode or two to find its feet. The opening feels as if it caters far too much to an audience overly-familiar with the shortcomings of social media. Over-dramatised police chases and unrelated party sequences are delivered through an unrelenting average shot length of probably around one second. Each beat overloads the audience more and more, whilst romanticising what would have been a desolate, post-war London landscape, to be a time of excitement and constant rebellion. However, as the band begins to take their place, and the settings establish themselves more clearly, the show really falls into a groove which carries through until the final curtain. John Lydon was the first to say that the creators hadn’t done it my way, but overall the six episodes deliver a story which informs those unfamiliar with the band on what they really represented, as well as delivering an entertaining and entrancing reimagining of this long since passed era to Pistols fans worldwide.

Particular standouts lie in the performances of Johnny Rotten imitator Anson Boon, as well as ever-punchable Thomas Brodie-Sangster reincarnating the sleaze of band manager Malcolm McLaren. The sound production is also a highlight, with each performance given by the band feeling as powerful as first recordings, matching the energy of later-spliced in original performances from shows of the time. Such a story also couldn’t get away without being commented on unless the fashion was mentioned. Vivianne Westwood’s iconic approach to clothing is perhaps what ties the entire late-seventies punk movement together. No scene through the series is complete without a band member or two adorning a purposefully provocative or obscene shirt. Jackets and trousers that your parents would either be horrified by, or become the root of their envy saunter through London streets, carrying within them the grand cast of characters who are set to make history.

The Sex Pistols are no British secret. Their lives and musical story is known amongst a great number of people, and most of those who have at least a vaguely decent interest in the band will probably look upon a Disney+ limited series telling their tale as only greater evidence that nothing good can last. However, although this is most likely true, there’s something to be appreciated about the shows’ ability to revive this past era, taking us back through the lives of Steve Jones, John Lydon, Paul Cook, Glen Matlock and Sid Vicious one more time.

Fisherman’s Friends: One and All – Review.

Rating: 12A Cast: James Purefoy, Sam Swainsbury, Dave Johns and Richard Hainsworth. Directed by Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft. Written by Piers Ashworth, Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft. Length: 111mins. 

Fisherman’s Friends: One and All is the follow up to 2019’s surprise hit ‘Fisherman’s Friends’, the tale of a group of rough and ready fishermen who become recording artists after a music executive spots them while on holiday in Cornwall. Based on a true story it was just so very British – it was nice, featured a few catchy tunes, saw normal people succeed and gave a gorgeous glimpse into the Cornish coast and coastal life. While the first film sat nicely with audiences, was there enough story to make a sequel? 

In short, probably not. But that hasn’t stopped audiences attending the cinema for a pleasant viewing – and that’s what you get. I can’t imagine anyone watching expecting a blockbuster.  

The story picks up where the first left off. The harmonising fishermen have a top 10 album and a sell out show under their belts but with their record label asking questions over the chances continued success, some members of the group (and their families) struggling with minor fame and the group leader, Jim, in the midst of grief for the loss of his father. The premise is relatively simple; the group need a new member who once joins clashes significantly with Jim and Jim faces personal issues around substance abuse. 

It’s a little scrappy and with a moment of high tension involving an accident at a derelict mine which seems random and a little out of place, it manages to maintain some of the charm of the first film but lacks a little magic ‘something’. While breezing over the themes of bereavement, substance abuse and male mental health issues it doesn’t really address anything and feels slightly like some issues were thrown in to appear progressive but just back out of any commitment to in depth themes. It was almost an interesting conversation where they matched small town, coastal folk with traditional opinions faced with a chance to learn about contemporary societal issues however, again, it felt like they took the safe route and backed out, throwing a bit of humour around the subject and trundling on through. 

Its heart is undoubtedly in the right place but is quite predictable and the clash between simple fishermen and sharp London suits running the record label was covered in the first film. Having said this, it is an easy watch. The music is still entertaining and the light hearted nature of the film is just ‘nice’; a word often used as a negative but sometimes ‘nice’ is what we need.