out of Five
Running time: 92
Impressively directed and sharply written, this is a powerfully emotional British drama with superb performances from all four leads.
What's it all about?
Directed by Hattie Dalton, Third Star opens with a voiceover by terminally ill 29-year-old James (Benedict Cumberbatch), explaining that he doesn't intend to see 30 and that he's okay with that. James duly invites his three best friends – sensitive Davy (Tom Burke), practical Bill (Adam Robertson) and feckless Miles (JJ Feild) – to accompany him on a camping trip to his favourite place in the world - Pembrokeshire's Barafundle Bay - but his three friends are unaware that he plans to commit suicide when he gets there.
The trip consists of the usual round of mishaps, arguments and bizarre encounters (including a make-up-wearing ferryman, Nanny McPhee 2's Eros Vlahos as an angel-winged little shit who steals Miles's watch and Hugh Bonneville as a bonkers beachcomber in search of a shipment of rare brown Darth Vaders) before the inevitable round of revelations, confessions and soul-searching. But will James's friends let him go through with his plan when they discover his intentions?
The performances are excellent and the friendship between all four men feels organic and real, particularly in their easy, piss-taking banter and good-natured rough-housing (“I liked the squeaky noise you made when he had you in a head-lock”). Of the four, Cumberbatch is moving and dignified as James, while Feild adds several layers to Miles in the more obviously charismatic role (as well as demonstrating an impressive ability to cry underwater), but there's superb support from Burke and newcomer Robertson, both of whom find strong moments of their own.
Vaughan Sivell's script crackles with witty, natural-sounding lines (including an extremely funny suppository gag) and familiar-sounding pointless conversations (the title comes from an argument about the correct directions to Neverland), while the emotional speeches are well handled, undercutting the more mawkish moments (Miles accuses James of “unnecessary fake soul-searching”) and swerving away from the usual cliches at the last moment.
In addition, the film is beautifully shot and takes full advantage of the gorgeous scenery, while the climax is both impressively directed and powerfully emotional.
Third Star is an impressively directed, sharply written and superbly acted British drama that packs a powerful emotional punch. Recommended.