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Movie Reviews

Cemetery Junction



Reviewer: Ellys Donovan

Directors: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant

Stars: Christian Cook, Felicity Jones and Tom Hughes

Released: 14th April 2010

Certificate: 15

Cemetery Junction is the second film written, directed and produced by Ricky Gervais but this time with the help of Stephen Merchant. The pair have worked on projects together before such as BAFTA awarding winning ‘The Office’ and ‘Extras’ but this is the first time that they have worked on a big budget film together. Gervais has released a film previous to this ‘The Invention of Lying’ (2009) starring Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe. However this is completely different to his previous work in film. Ricky Gervais states, “The film is a coming of age drama, don’t go expecting a knock about comedy”. Gervais and Merchant found inspiration for the film from a lyric of the Bruce Springsteen song Thunder Road, ‘It’s in a town full of losers and I’m pulling out of here to win’. This perfectly captures what the film is about.

Cemetery Junction is set in the summer of 1973 and is based around three friends in the Thames Valley. Freddie, (played by Christian Cooke) wants to move up in the World and doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps of working in a factory for the rest of his life, so instead of this finds himself a job selling life insurance. And while working meets and rekindles a friendship with the boss’s daughter Julie (played by Felicity Jones). While getting to know Julie finds out about her passion for photography and travel. Although Freddie thinks that Julie could make a career from photography and takes her dream seriously, her father on the other hand does not as she is to be married to a fellow colleague who also does not think that she could make a career out of it, both Julie’s fiancé and her Father have the male chauvinistic views of women. As Freddie tells Julie that she should go for her dreams of travel and photography she then questions Freddie’s career of selling life insurance and if it is something that he really wants to do or whether he too would like to travel and see the world. Freddie when telling his parents and grandmother that he would like to go to France and see the World gets put in his place by his mother, ‘Why would you want to go to France for, There’s parts of Reading you haven’t seen yet’.  Freddie makes his mind up and is then determined to leave Reading and start an adventure and so asks his two friends Snork (Jack Doolan) the happy go lucky Jack the lad that is unlucky with the girls and works at the train station, and Bruce (Tom Hughes) who works in the factory with Freddie’s father and has a problem with his temper as he ends up getting in to a lot of fights and spending the night in prison, to join him. Both are bemused by Freddie’s plans to leave. It leaves you wondering if they will leave and if the romance between Julie and Freddie will come to anything, and if Julie will leave the life that her Father (Ralph Fiennes) and Fiancé have planned for her and go on to lead the life she wants instead of what is expected of her. Cemetery Junction is a drama with some aspects of comedy, the comedic element of the film is very much contributed by Freddie’s parents played by Julia Davis and Ricky Gervais and also his Grandmother loosely based on Ricky Gervais’s Family growing up.

The 70s backdrop and element to the film is not over done by Merchant and Gervais, the 70s references and fashion of the time, is tastefully done, with a sense of nostalgia for the audience that may have grown up in the era. The soundtrack to the film is superb with tracks from the likes of David Bowie, Elton John, and Led Zeppelin.

Merchant and Gervais’s aim was to produce a film that is rarely seen in British cinema but which is seen quite a lot in Hollywood, as Stephen Merchant says ‘ When Bruce Springsteen says he’s going to leave this town you know he’s going to drive for a thousand miles, whereas here you drive for miles and you end up in Leeds’. The film captures something that is rarely seen in British cinema, a warm, funny, coming of age, feel good drama, about leaving behind the small town mentality, it’s not a gritty drama that is seen so often in British cinema but a well directed nostalgic film that leaves you warm hearted.

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