Be Young. Be Free. Be Somebody.
Running Time: 95 minutes
US Certificate: N/A UK Certificate: 15
Of late, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have become obsessed with the banality of celebrity. Every project seems to revolve around which A-listers they can get to work with them or poke fun at and who’s their mate. The duo have hopefully come to realise that nobody really cares and so Cemetery Junction sees a welcome return to their unremarkable, but ripe for satire, Berkshire roots.
Freddy (Cooke), Bruce (Hughes) and Snork (Doolan) are three teenage friends who work and drink their lives away in the English backwater of Cemetery Junction. Freddy works for a insurance company whom he believes can provide him with money and a better life, Bruce is an angry factory worker with a chip on his shoulder and a bleak future ahead of him and Snork is a train station attendant who is very bad with women. When Julie (Jones), an old school friend and Freddy’s boss’s (Fiennes) daughter returns from University, she makes Freddy realise that there is more to life than working and baby-making in Cemetery Junction.
Cemetery Junction is a nostalgic homage to the kitchen sink films of post-war Britain that focussed on the austerity and monotony of Working Class life. The unrelenting grimness has been somewhat replaced with a more upbeat feelgood factor whilst keeping the big questions running behind the action. Ricky Gervais’s underlying theme of not squandering your life is a noble one but it’s repeatedly rammed home and delivered with such unsubtlety and predictable dialogue that it kind of spoils a decent idea. It has been done before many times, notably by the Angry Young Men of the Fifties and Sixties, but much better.
However, this comedy does boast a good young British cast and it is refreshing to be treated to a British film that in no way includes Timothy Spall or Ray Winstone. Christian Cooke (who I went to school with and who, I hate to say, I never spoke to) and Felicity Jones are two likeable leads, toothy Tom Hughes swaggers around the screen with a masculine purpose as the highly clichéd angry man of the piece and Jack Doolan’s interesting appearance is his main comic talent. Ricky Gervais comes across well by taking an onscreen backseat and keeping his squeeking indignation routine to a minimum. These impressive performances are joined by a feelgood Seventies soundtrack, heavy on David Bowie and pre-gay Elton John, and a humour that ranges from the tittersome to the genuinely funny.
It's Got: Some very funny moments, likeable young cast, an acceptable amount of screentime for Ricky Gervais.
It Needs: To be less heavy handed with the lesson, more originality
Gervais and Merchant and the young cast do some things right with this feel-good Kitchen Sinker but the clichéd storytelling and heavy-handed lessons on life let it down.