Son of Rambow (4 stars)

Son of Rambow

(12A) 95min


It’s the summer of 1983. Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative party are winning their second landslide election victory and NASA is putting the first American woman in space, two schoolboys from the south of England are about to change each other’s lives forever. Troubled wannabe filmmaker, truant and school bully Lee Carter (Will Poulter) needs a stuntman and co star for the film he is shooting on his brother’s bulky new video camera. Quiet Will (Bill Milner) is a member of a fundamentalist Christian Evangelical movement which has a brethren branch in the area; because of this he is not allowed to watch films or television.

When their paths cross Will is exposed to his first film with a pirated copy of the then newly released Rambo: First Blood, which also happens to be the film that Lee wants to remake on home video. The two launch into the project with the glee of the holy but school, French exchange students and families come between them.

Writer/director Garth Jennings’ and producer Nick Goldsmith’s long gestating project (the big budget madness of 2005’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy slowed things down) is an absolute joy. Viewed through the thousand yard stare of the tender Will, Jennings slowly builds an immensely moving story of allegiance, friendship, obsession and long summer days in the woods that always seemed to last forever. Like Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep, Be Kind Rewind), Jennings also has an incredibly inventive visual style and a healthily perverse and crafty approach to mise en scène. Like some adolescent DuChamp Jennings throws the whole play box (scissors, crayons, rainy day book, everything) into this beguiling patchwork of surreal comedy and acutely observed school scenes, which come across as equal parts Grange Hill and Jean Vigo’s Zéro de Conduite.

With this his second feature Jennings has channelled something all too rare in British cinema: the eccentric but darkly pertinent family drama best typified by Peter Chelsom’s excellent 1995 Funny Bones (surely a film ripe for revaluation) and Danny Boyle’s Millions. The Son of Rambow is a gorgeous, wonderful and funny film, and one that echoes Yoda’s belief that ‘Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.’

General release from Fri 4 Apr.

Son of Rambow

  • 4 stars
  • 2008
  • France / UK
  • 1h 35min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Garth Jennings
  • Written by: Garth Jennings
  • Cast: Will Poulter, Bill Milner, Neil Dudgeon, Adam Godley

Troubled child and wannabe filmmaker Lee Carter (Poulter) enlists Will (Milner), a member of a fundamentalist Christian Evangelical family, as a stuntman for a remake of 'Rambo: First Blood' in this patchwork of beguiling surreal comedy and eccentric but darkly pertinent family drama. An absolute joy.