Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Movie Log: Son of Rambow

Son of Rambow is one of those movies that seems that it must be autobiographical -- to some degree, at least -- because it's so incredibly specific. It's a movie about very particular people, in a very specific time and place, living lives that didn't come out of a million previous movies. Perhaps it is fictional, but -- even if it is -- it has the quirky charms of actual truth to it.

It's 1982, somewhere in England. (All jokes about how there are parts of England that would be lucky to get up to 1982 this decade suppressed.) Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) is about twelve, one of two children of a widow and part of a very strict Puritan sect. He's never seen a movie; the first scene of the movie has him exiled to the hallway at his local school, doodling in his notebook while his schoolmates watch some dull documentary.

And that's where he meets Lee Carter (Will Poulter), the school's resident troublemaker. Lee quickly sizes up Will, and takes merciless advantage of Will's innocence and unworldliness. But just being around Lee opens up Will's world -- in particular, he sees a movie for the first time because of Lee. That movie is First Blood, and it sets the rest of the plot in motion.

Lee and Will start filming their own sequel to First Blood, starring Will as "Son of Rambow" and Lee as the Richard Crenna character. Things go on from there, as they will -- a somewhat over-the-top (but always enjoyably so, and in keeping with the time period as well) French exchange student named Didier also becomes part of the film.

Son of Rambow does have something like a lesson at the end, but it's not crammed down the audience's throats. And the scenes along the way all ring true -- this is the story of these boys, in their world, in 1982, not something concocted out of a Hollywood scripting class. It also has an occasionally flamboyant visual style, as Will's drawings come to scratchily-animated life on the screen as they do in his head. It's something of a small film, and one that's easy to miss. But it's definitely worth seeking out; Will and Lee are very memorable kids, and their story is worth seeing.

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