Review: Son of Rambow
PLOT: When two unlikely young boys named Will and Lee become friends, one is given the chance to see the movie FIRST BLOOD while at his buddies house. After being sheltered for many years by his religion, Will discovers a freedom he enjoys with his new found friend. So the two begin work on a home made film entitled SON OF RAMBOW. Once they complete it, they make plans to enter it into a local festival. But soon, everything seems to get in the way of the two finishing their masterpiece. Whether it be one of the boys religion, or a local French exchange student with aspirations to become a movie star, everything seems to fall apart. Will the two inevitably be able to finish their movie debut? Would Stallone give up? I thought not.
There is something very retro about SON OF RAMBOW. Whether it be the plethora of Eighties music including The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees, or even the significance of FIRST BLOOD on a young impressionable mind. In fact, I have a strong suspicion that anyone who loves film would really find something to relate to here. It has that cinematic love that CINEMA PARADISO offered up, only this time, its all about FIRST BLOOD and Rambo. This is a sweetly comical tale of two young boys who set out to make a film for a local festival. And after being inspired by Mr. Stallone, they decide to create what every kid wants to make, a cool little action flick with car chases and explosions.
SON OF RAMBOW is, at heart, a coming of age drama. In fact, it is not very different from most films of that ilk. You have the awkward loner, Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner), who lives a quiet life surrounded by religion. His family is not allowed to watch television or go to the local cinema. He even has to leave his class whenever they show a documentary. It is at this time, he finds himself immersed in his art. Will loves to draw. He conjures up some pretty incredible characters and seems to be happier when surround by them. And as he waits outside his class this particular day, he witnesses another student being removed from his class, but certainly not because he couldnt watch a movie. Lee Carter (Will Poulter), storms outside his classroom, and notices the strange boy watching him. So what would a normal kid do to someone he wants to make friends with? Throw a ball and hit them in the head. Obviously, this is the sign of a wonderful friendship in the making.
Both Will and Lee seem to connect. One sort of wonders why, but then again, most little boys have a buddy that just seems to terrorize the hell out of the other. Will soon learns that Lee sells video tapes, bootlegs that he records from the local cinema. When Will is left alone while Lees not so adoring older brother shows up, he is witness to John Rambo, as he watches FIRST BLOOD for the first time. Now stop right there. This is what Im talking about. I loved the feeling of watching this boy experience Rambo and realize how much his imagination takes over. For me it was STAR WARS and/or HALLOWEEN. But I felt that joy as he pretends that he is the son of Rambo, except just like a child may do, he adds a w to the name. And as his imagination soars, both Will and Lee embark on making a film with the evil brothers camera.
I loved the relationship between both Milner and Poulter. It is sometimes mean-spirited, and poor Will suffers a bunch from his bullying friend. But we soon realize that Lees home life is pretty pathetic. A mother who is always away, and she leaves the two alone with big bro in charge. Yet it is clear that the two kids are developing a very realistic and sometimes a bit too sentimental relationship. But it works, and the boys both give terrific performances. Soon, their friendship is tested when a French foreign exchange student (Jules Sitruk) commandeers the production. At this point, the film loses some of its charm. I didnt really find Frenchy to be all that interesting, not that it is a bad performance, he just was sort of well, annoying. Yet, even though a nice portion of the second act contains this clown and all his child cronies, I still felt connected.
Director Garth Jennings tells his tale of Eighties nostalgia quite nicely. The moments of fantasy are mixed cleverly with the real world. Son of Rambow has enough magic to remind everybody how wonderful imagination can be. Although it is sometimes a bit too sappy when it comes to the boys story, it does have a warm heart underneath it all. Yet with that comes a warning. For those thinking this would be a perfect movie to take the young ones to, you might want to rethink that. This is a fairly violent film as the two friends get into some pretty dangerous stuff together, that undoubtedly you might want the kiddies to avoid. I dont believe that violent images make individuals act on that instinct, but I do believe that something as relatable as this film is, just isnt necessarily a good idea until the young folk are a little less impressionable. Still, it is a sweet movie that will make anyone who grew up in the Eighties, long for Siouxsie, when she was still with the Banshees. My rating 7/10 -- JimmyO
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