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Brassed Off! (1996)

  Directed by: Mark Herman
Written by: Mark Herman
Starring: Tara Fitzgerald, Ewan McGregor, Pete Postlethwaite, Stephen Tompkinson
Links: Brassed Off! on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 6.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Brass bands and colliery closures" - a review by em_fiction

For this year's film study in English, our teacher chose to do a small British film called Brassed Off!. I was surprised to have never heard about it before then, except perhaps coming across nothing more than its title in one of those "please take one" Ezy magazines from Video Ezy. If I'm not mistaken, I can remember at the bottom of the Billy Elliot (2000) review, it read "See it if you enjoyed Brassed Off!"

Anyway, the story is set in a small working class northern England village called Grimley. When the Thatcher government foresees plans to close the Grimley colliery (basically the whole town's core industry) the jobs of many workers are threatened. Hope still exists, however, in the Grimley colliery brass band led by a stubborn retired miner named Danny (Pete Postlethwaite). Some of the job-at-stake miners play in the band, but at this time of adversity there is much confusion whether to fight for the pit or to play for the band.

Enter Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald), a smart, young, optimistic city girl who's returned to her hometown. She joins the band and is reunited with her childhood sweetheart, the negative and rather depressed Andy (Ewan McGregor). When the band discovers that she works for management (i.e. the bad guys), Gloria has a rough time trying to convince them that despite this she's on their side.

In a parallel subplot, we also meet Phil (Stephen Tompkinson), Danny's son, whose wife and family are struggling to make ends meet with the instability of Phil's job and his commitment to the band.

It is impossible to watch this film and not make comparisons with Billy Elliot, another very similar British film about finding some sort of resilience in a time of adversity. Billy Elliot, however, has plain focus on the subject of Billy and his ballet while Brassed Off! expands significance to many other issues.

The British cast provide us with some very convincing performances, especially coming from the four leads. There is also something about the accents in British films which just somehow colourfully embellish the chemistry, humour and energy.

The film is an insightful glimpse on the sort of turmoil that the Thatcher government's impact had on England's ordinary working class, but on the fictitious side, however, the film exaggerates a few too many things killing off a lot of the realism.

Mark Herman, the writer and director, has a solid grip on his character development, humour and messages of morality, but he goes a step too far in flooding the film with cheap sentiment and trying to jerk tears that refuse to come out. The issues dealt with in the film had potential to move the audience so it's unfortunate that Herman didn't make good use of that rather than overblowing it.

em_fiction gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 3 Dec 2003

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Reader comments

  1. i think that this is the best movie ever, and Ewan McGragor is an awsome actor.

    A comment from stephanie on Mon 09 Feb 2004 18:58 #

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