Son of Rambow

Director: Garth Jennings

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Son of Rambow Set in a small town in England in 1982, Son of Rambow (2007) could as easily have taken place in the American midwest.

It tells a universal story of childhood friendship, but not in any Hallmark Channel manner. It's an inventive occasonally insane little film, with central performances by the kids that will blow you away.

Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) is an artistic little oddball whose mother (Jessica Hynes) belongs to a lunatic Christian cult. His mom is clearly depressed due to the loss of her husband. For solace she has fallen under the thumb of a dictatorial & obviously horny bible-thumping Brother Joshua (Neil Dudgeon), a menace to the children's emotional health.

Will's rather an outcast in the parochial school where even other religious kids know his family belong to a crazy cult. One day he's bullied & mercilessly manipulated by Carter (Will Poulter), the parochial school's resident juvenile delinquent who even talks the Proudfoot boy out of his late father's wristwatch. And yet, strangely enough, they soon become fast friends.

Son of RambowCarter's homelife is pretty grim. His single mother has pretty much abandoned him & his older brother (Ed Westwick), having gone to Europe with a lover & never at any time seen in the film.

The brothers live rent free in a tiny apartment in the back of an old folks' home which his mother's boyfriend owns. Carter loves his older brother to distraction, but that guy's rebel teen & the opposite of qualified as a substitute parent. So Carter has been raising himself.

The saving grace of Carter's life is his interest in filmmaking. Inspired by the first Rambo film First Blood (1982), he has been living a secret fantasy life (complete with wildly wonderful animation to convey what's going on in his head).

With his brother's video camera, he begins making his own version of First Blood, & has selected Will to be his star. For the first time Will's world broadens, & he no longer has to hide out in the lawnmower shed as his only personal space.

The Christian cult his mother forces Will & his sister to attend prohibits friendships with outsiders, so Will has to sneak around to help make the film. He becomes the film's titular Son of Rambow (2007), with Carter arranging stunt sequences that by rights should've resulted in extreme injury to Will, funny stuff.

Son of RambowCarter had conceived the film without a script other than what he'd seen in the Rambo movie. Will writes a real script which involves a flying monster dog.

As his mother's depression as a widow & her involvement in the cult results in cruelty, Will withdraws more & more into Rambo fantasies & creativity.

Dotted with striking & absurd slapstick humor, Son of Rambow rises well above most feel-good dramas of youth's friendships, being genuinely eccentric. But it is at the same time just such a heartwarming drama. The bond between the boys deepens, as their mutual homelives become weirder & increasingly unpleasant.

Then divisiveness intrudes on their private world when other kids at school figure out Will is making a movie & they want to be in the film. Even the coolest kid of all wants to be in the film, exchange student Didier (Jules Sitruk) who is the strangest evocation of "cool" ever concocted for a movie. He's a parody of the New Wave fashions of the '80s.

Will's ego inflates, never having thought he'd ever be embraced by the cool kids. He pretty much Betrays & takes the film production away from him. They approach becoming enemies.

A life-threatening accident reveals to Will what kind of friends one can count on, & a triumphant "opening night" for their amateur film finally brings these friends back together, & other happy-ever-after moments will be provided as Carter's brother learns a bit of responsibility (their mom never does show up) & Will's mom finally choses the well being of her son & daughter over the dictatorial whims of diseased Christian nutters.

Don't know if I've conveyed it sufficiently, but this really is a fine low budget independent feature. It's worth owning on dvd & dragging it out for a new viewing anytime someone comes by who hasn't seen it.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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