Anything written and directed by Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais at the moment is going to get a lot of attention from people like me who are huge fans of their work. And that is why I went to see their latest film offering, Cemetery Junction, last night.
I am sad to say I was disappointed and frustrated by the film though.
Cemetary Junction is about three young men who have grown up in a rather dead-end area of 1970s Britain, namely Cemetery Junction. They all have dreams to escape the depressing existence they can see all their elders growing into around them.
You watch them try to make this dream come true. However all you really get is scene after scene proving this depressing existence, which after a while becomes rather repetitive and each scene just isn’t as subtle as you feel the directors probably thought it was.
The casting is a bit hit and miss.
For a start, as much as they probably knew it would help to pull in the crowds, Gervais should not have cast himself in it, no matter how small a role he had. Even Merchant’s two-minute role was more a distraction than a comic value-adding asset for the film.
Gervais was weak in his role. It was like he was almost laughing at himself for having the audacity to try to play the part of a factory-working dad. I just ended up feeling uncomfortable watching him.
Further to this, Jack Doolan, who plays Snork, and is there as a kind of geeky, light-relief character just doesn’t seem to have the comic timing to pull this off. And Ralph Fiennes who plays the stuck-up, intensely dull Mr Kendrick, looks uncomfortable and out of place.
The only saving graces are the two main characters, Freddy Taylor (played by Christian Cooke) and Bruce Pearson (played by Tom Hughes). Hughes in particular gives a very strong yet moving performance and could be a star in the making.
The film does give you that euphoric feeling towards the end when the happy ending, which was so obviously coming our way, finally manifests itself.
However, you only feel this way because you are hopeful that you are about to be rewarded for sitting through the past hour and a half of slow motion intensity with some light relief for at least another half an hour.
Instead, the film comes to a very abrupt and unexpected end at this point, leaving you feeling frustrated and slightly suspicious that the writers had run out of ideas and didn’t really know how to finish it properly.
I really don’t want to be laying into Gervais’ and Merchant’s work like this. As I said, I am a big fan. Things like The Office are nothing short of genius. But Cemetery Junction was a real let-down for me and I do feel like they have not done themselves justice with it.
By Sophie Hudson