In 1970s Britain, three friends find themselves at a crossroads while “shagging, drinking, and fighting” in this gritty coming of age film that could easily be described as a British Breaking Away (1979).
But instead of being derivative, the movie reminds us that the passage from crazy youth to adulthood comes with a lot of questions and no easy answers. Some of the humor is ribald and some of the sweeter moments a bit too saccharine, but this movie captures an authentic feeling of when generations butt heads amidst changing times.
Fiennes is great as the sexist, arrogant insurance magnate that Hughes gets a job working for (he’s also romancing the big guy’s daughter). His complete apathy would be hysterical if it didn’t cut so deep.
The most surprising thing about this earnest, well-shot, solidly-acted drama is that it was co-written and co-directed by Ricky Gervais. Unsurprisingly, the movie went straight to video in the US because re-branding Gervais as a serious filmmaker would have been a lot of work.
But if this film is any indication, the combined voice of Gervais and Merchant – they also wrote and directed The Invention of Lying (2009) – is a refreshing one indeed. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
— DENNIS WILLIS