out of Five
Running time: 95
Impressively directed and sharply written, this is an emotionally engaging drama with terrific performances from rising stars Christian Cooke and Tom Hughes.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, Cemetery Junction is set in the Reading suburb of Cemetery Junction in 1973, where ambitious twentysomething Freddie (Christian Cooke) has just landed a white-collar insurance job, much to the annoyance of his childhood best friends, fighty, charismatic ladies' man Bruce (Tom Hughes) and tubby loveable loser Snork (Jack Doolan). Freddie drifts further away from his friends when he falls for back-from-boarding-school childhood sweetheart Julie (Felicity Jones), who turns out to be both the daughter of his boss (Ralph Fiennes) and engaged to his smarmy supervisor (Matthew Goode).
The three young leads are excellent, with Hughes, in particular, giving a stand-out performance that is certain to lead to greater things. There's also strong support from Ralph Fiennes (superb as Freddie's chauvinistic boss), Emily Watson (who's perfectly cast as Julie's taken-for-granted mother) and the always wonderful Felicity Jones, who has sweet chemistry with Cooke.
The direction is extremely good throughout; ironically, the only slight mis-step in tone comes from the too broad, too knowing comedy of Gervais and Julia Davis as Freddie's parents. The rest of the film is much more traditional in tone. Harking back to the British New Wave films of the 1960s, it finds strong emotional resonance in the tried-and-tested coming-of-age themes of clashing with parents and wanting to leave your stifling small town.
The script is excellent: the dialogue crackles with witty lines and there are some nice off-beat character touches, especially with cafe owner Brian (David Earl), who seems to be off in a movie of his own.
In addition, the film looks gorgeous throughout, courtesy of Remi Adefarasin's striking cinematography and some impeccable production design work. There's also a terrific 1970s soundtrack to boot.
This is an impressively directed, sharply written and emotionally engaging drama with terrific performances from its up-and-coming leads. Highly recommended.
Cemetery Junction (15)