That term first came to my mind when, as a child, I’d try to say “stream of consciousness” and end up with “brainflow.” It seems to fit here.

Welcome to the ramblings of my mind. (For now, these ones revolve mostly around films.)

Son of Rambow

Thursday, May 8th, 2008 8:45 pm—Film

Son of Rambow (France/UK/Germany 2008, Comedy/Drama), Writer/Director: Garth Jennings

I can never decide whether I’d rather have daughters or sons, but Son of Rambow sure tipped the scales in favour of boys. Or just kids in general. They have the most strange and beautiful take on the world, and surprisingly sharp insights when you least expect them.

Set in early 1980s England, Son of Rambow is about two young outcasts who decide to make a film about Rambo’s son (among other things). Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) is part of a Brethren family; Lee Carter (Will Poulter) lives alone with his brother and enjoys a reputation as the school bully. When they meet, Will is the dreamer and Carter is the doer, but they quickly rub off on each other. Will’s sleeping spirit is awakened when Carter shows him Rambo: First Blood. From that moment on, Will’s imagination takes on a life of its own.

At its best, Son of Rambow takes you inside the boys’ imaginations and into their world, giving little glimpses of their private woodland conversations and dreams. But for me, these moments weren’t woven together quite well enough. It’s pretty fabric that’s just a little loose at the seams.

A few times in the film, Will’s imagination takes the form of animation and special effects. But it happens too infrequently to have a real impact, and gives the film a somewhat half-baked feel. Writer/director Garth Jennings should either have gone farther with the animation, or left it out entirely. As it is, it just served to remind me of Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures which did a much better job at incorporating animation and portraying a child’s imagination (albeit a very warped imagination).

One of the pull-quotes on the film’s poster hails Son of Rambow as “a valentine to filmmaking.” That fits for me. It’s sweet, but a little superficial and light on real feeling. At times it tries to pack an emotional punch, but because of the rushed pacing, it falls a little short. In his direction, and in the editing, Jennings doesn’t allow time to properly build the climaxes or let us linger on their impact.

Still, I recommend seeing the film. It’s endearing and funny and features wonderful young actors. And sometimes a valentine is just what the doctor ordered: candy for the soul.

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