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Cemetery Junction

November 8, 2015

Cemetery Junction (2010)
Directors: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
Actors: Christopher Cooke, Tom Hughes, Ralph Fiennes

cemeteryjunction-01.jpg (322×134)

Synopsis: In the mid-1970s, three young men in ‘Cemetery Junction’, an unexceptional district of Reading, dream of a life outside its mediocre boundaries….

Review: For Ricky Gervais’ second feature film as director (in fact, this is co-directed with regular sparring partner, Stephen Merchant), he falls foul of almost all the pitfalls which made his debut effort, The Invention of Lying, an uncomfortable compromise between the evident comic talents that brought him to the forefront in the first place, and the moneyed, commercial apparatus that his popularity has invited.

In a sense, the only clue we get that Gervais has authored this film are the irreverent one-liners and some witty sketch-show skits – invariably featuring his own nonchalantly portrayed working-class father. That aside, Gervais and Merchant as directors seem trapped in conceiving of their medium in the most bland and hackneyed of ways. There’s the prototypical three-act structure that’s so telegraphed you can see each plot development coming a mile off. The characterisation is so prescribed that it adversely prevents the viewer from empathising with any of the three boys, and the nostalgia theme and soundtrack is so familiar and ‘received’ from other feelgood period movies that it completely swamps anything even remotely profound that Gervais might be trying to say about a sentimental notion of his “goldfish bowl” adolescence in Reading in the seventies. This film’s ‘coming of age’ theme and critique/satire of regional English mores in a bygone era was done infinitely better in Lone Scherfig’s An Education of a year previous. (November 2015)

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