- James Mottram
- 11 March 2019
Undemanding, cockle-warming British comedy inspired by a singing sensation
For the uninitiated, the Fisherman's Friends are a real-life, all-male Cornish folk troupe who leapt to fame when they signed a £1 million record deal with Island Records in 2010. The journey of these fishermen-turned-chart-toppers forms the basis of Chris Foggin's breezy comedy that comes seasoned with sea shanties and a sprinkling of romance. Written by Piers Ashworth, Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft, it's a gently amusing feelgood film in the tradition of Calendar Girls and Brassed Off.
Set in the fishing town of Port Isaac, the story is seen largely through the eyes of Danny (Daniel Mays), a talent handler very loosely based on Ian Brown, the real-life manager of the Fisherman's Friends. Arriving in Cornwall on a stag, he's soon duped into signing the men by his mean-spirited boss Troy (Noel Clarke), who has no intention of taking on this ten-strong team. But after Danny falls for Alwyn (Tuppence Middleton), the guesthouse-running daughter of the group's grouchy Jim (James Purefoy), he becomes invested in the idea of turning these singers into stars.
Foggin – an assistant director on several notable films including The World's End and The Iron Lady, who made his debut with 2016's summery coming-of-age tale Kids in Love – ably handles the material here. He demonstrates a lightness of touch as he oversees a well-chosen ensemble, which also includes I, Daniel Blake's Dave Johns and Taboo's David Hayman as two of the group (more gruff approximations of the real Fisherman's Friends than actual representations).
Mays is a watchable lead, playing the outsider who finds the change of pace from London life exactly what he needs, and he generates nice chemistry with Middleton. Admittedly, some of the characters around him – particularly Clarke's transatlantic-sounding exec – are thinly sketched, while the rom-com plotting is all-too predictable. What results is an undemanding yarn that'll still warm the cockles of your heart.
General release from Fri 15 Mar.