A Richard Ayoade film
Director Richard Ayoade
Writer of film – Richard Ayoade
Writer of novel - Joe Dunthorne
Featuring Adrienne O’Sullivan, Claire Cage, Yasmin Paige
Reviewed by DJ Forrest
Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is a 15 year old schoolboy going on 50. The film is based around the time of duffel coats and leather briefcases for school, VHS and cassette tapes, old tellies and big hair, and is a coming of age film.
The story is based around the life of Oliver Tate, an only child who thinks a lot but talks very little. He lives with his parents at the top of a steep hill. Oliver is very much a loner, and possibly a little autistic, he keeps a notebook and scribbles details down wherever he goes, has dates and times. He knows that when the light is on fully in his parent’s room, they’ve not had sex. His father barely speaks and his mother searches for excitement elsewhere, in the arms of an ex. Oliver wants his parents to work things out, and does everything he can to make sure that happens.
With a birthday fast approaching, Oliver doesn’t want to face it still a virgin. He fancies a girl in his class, Jordana Bevan, but it’s unclear if she really loves him back or if he’s another conquest to notch on the bedpost. At first the pair appears to be very awkward together. Although she holds his hand it’s unclear whether Oliver can really appreciate the whole girlfriend boyfriend relationship, without over thinking every possible scenario.
One of the first things I ever notice in a film is the cast, and I often get a warm feeling of excitement when I recognise someone from the world of Who, regardless of whether this is Torchwood, SJA or some other spin off or connection through a writer. So as much as I knew that Claire Cage and Adrienne O’Sullivan were in the film, it was a surprise to see Yasmin Paige playing alongside the lead role as Jordana Bevan, the girl Oliver (Craig Roberts) fancied.
Obviously she was much different in persona to Maria in SJA, and her character had a penchant for matches, rather than an interest in extra-terrestrial life forms but nevertheless, Yasmin for me was still a delight to watch. Adrienne O’Sullivan (TW: Small Worlds) appeared very briefly as Jackie. Claire Cage (TW: Sleeper) appeared as a news reporter in a scene where Oliver imagined how the world would be if he no longer existed, and who would mourn his passing.
The film has highs and lows; Oliver’s state of mind doesn’t really lift much throughout the film. It’s funny and it’s sad, it’s happy and it has a few deep moments, it has laugh out loud moments too. I found it enjoyable but for those looking for action packed sequences, then this isn’t for you. It has a steady pace throughout the story.
The narration of the story in the film is all from Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), and there’s lots to listen to, to understand his frame of mind, where he’s coming from, why he’s desperate for his family to work out their differences. How he feels about his life in general. I enjoy films like this, where you’re transported through the mind of another, very much in the way that ‘The Outsiders’ was put across, from the mind of one particular character.
So from that point of view, this is an excellent film and one everyone must watch at least once, although I’ll be watching it again as I didn’t realise Ben Stiller was in the film till I saw the credits. Sorry Ben!
Richard Ayoade is an actor, writer and director, and starred in the comedy series The IT Crowd.