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Arts & Culture

Son of Rambow

But one day while Will is waiting in the school corridor as his classmates watch a video, he meets Lee Carter (Will Poulter). Will immediately sense the danger Lee Carter represents and tries to hide. You see Lee Carter's been sent out into the hall because his teachers can no longer control him. In no time at all, Lee has them both in trouble and has conned Will out of his watch and into helping him make a video to submit to the Young Filmmakers Competition for the British TV show Screen Test.

Lee brings Will to his home where the sheltered lad sees a bootlegged copy of First Blood . The experience is transforming. Will's always had an active imagination and now he suddenly sees himself as the son of Rambow (since he never sees the name spelled out he improvises this spelling). So although it's Lee who has the idea of making a movie, it's Will who becomes possessed by the project. So what begins as Lee bullying Will into cooperation soon turns into a project that allows the boys' imagination to run wild. We see Will's creativity in the way he fills a book with drawings and covers the school's bathroom walls with extravagant adventures. So once Lee gets Will on board, Will makes himself available as stuntman, actor, and all around idea guy.

The French New Wave invasion in Son of Rambow (Paramount Vantage)


Their rebel spirit gets a French New Wave spin when a foreign exchange student from Paris arrive at the school. Didier (Jules Sitruk) has a punky style and an oh-so-bored-with-life attitude that makes the girls swoon while the boys want to be in his gang. He insists on joining the film as its star, and that creates tensions and unexpected consequences.

Son of Rambow conveys the passion and imagination of these kids. It reveals the vivid fantasy life that the lonely Will creates in order to entertain himself, and the way Lee Carter uses filmmaking as a means of escape. But what the film also does is to place their fantasies in a very real context. So we see that Lee Carter has a selfish mother who has left her two sons to their own devices, and sends her love - when she remembers - from afar. Will grows up fatherless as well. His dad died of a heart attack while mowing the lawn, something that proves both tragic and comic for Will. Will's mother tries to be a presence in his life but she doesn't know how to manage her bright young son who longs to be a part of the outside world. Neither kid fits in at school, and that's what bonds this odd couple together.

Writer-director Garth Jennings has a nice feel for what it's like being a kid and having dreams and ideas. He's not condescending and he finds a great inventiveness in the kids' filmmaking attempts. Jennings also directed the movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , and the style here has a similar silliness that springs from characters that you like and can actually identify with in odd ways. But unlike the somewhat jaded tone of Hitchhiker, Rambow displays a true sense of youthful wonder.

Will and one of his drawing in Son of Rambow (Paramount Vantage)


Milner and Poulter are delightful as the boys. They are thoroughly unselfconscious. They create kids who don't seem to be acting cute or smart-alecky for the camera. Instead they create rather complex youngsters who are both trying to find creative ways out of lives that they are not happy with. Sitruk is also hilarious as the French boy who may only be hip and cool in England. He appears to be a rebel to the British kids but there's a sense of conformity to his rebellion. In contrast, Will and Lee Carter, although appearing geekier, are actually the true rebels in this film. The adults are a bit of a blur in this world. Stevenson, who usually does bright, quirky comedy, is a bit drab as Will's mom but she conveys a mother's love and confusion about raising a young boy.

Son of Rambow (rated PG-13 for some violence and reckless behavior) is a refreshingly sweet and sincere film about friendship at a young age.

Companion viewing: First Blood, A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Spaced, Stand By Me