Monday, June 18, 2012

Brassed Off (Mark Herman, 1996) Review

It's time to take a look at a British gritty realism film. I've done some comedy ones but I decided to aim for a more depressing one...a depressing one that still has hints of comedy. It's a feel good film yet it's filled with depressing scenes and moments. There are great aspects that make up this film, whether it be acting or writing or some others. 

In a Northern mining town, the miners get by in life by participating in their very own brass band. The band is run by Danny (Pete Postlethwaite), acting as the band leader and conductor. The mine is in jeopardy and is at risk of closing, leaving the miners without jobs. The miners decide it's best to stop the band and work on rebuilding their community but this clashes with Danny's determination at playing in the national competition. More complications crop up when Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald) arrives and joins the band after winning Danny over with her flugelhorn playing. Band member Andy (Ewan McGregor) falls for Gloria but is unaware whether she's helping the miners or wanting the miners closed.

I love the sound of brass bands, just like the ones this film focuses on, so it's great to hear the music that they play. Their renditions of famous songs such as Danny Boy or Jerusalem are fantastic. Considering that this film focuses on music, it's an important factor and it doesn't disappoint. It sounds great and, if you can, I would suggest you get the soundtrack if you love the music. There are tons of songs that feature throughout and the narrative leads into each song very well.

Brassed Off is different and unique as it focuses on more than one main character. Sure, it's been done but here, everyone has a story. It's great to see what each character is doing at different points in time. The characters are well written and the acting is great. It's easily Pete Postlethwaite's best role and comes close to Ewan McGregor's best (debatable). Another great story is Danny's son, Phil (Stephen Tompkinson), who is left having to be a clown to get money.

It's obviously a gritty realism film yet there are hints of humour at points. It's depressing at times, sure, but it's light-hearted and may even make you laugh at times. It's a great mix of genres and it's full of juxtapositions that make for some mixed emotions...huh. 

Brassed Off is a mixed film in terms of content. It's great but I feel it can't be fit under one set genre. Everything else is great. The acting is top notch, the music sounds fantastic and the narrative and writing is well done. If you're up for one hell of a satisfying ending then you'll enjoy this. I recommend it to anyone who can appreciate the British setting and narrative as well as great acting. If you can find it, check it out. You won't be disappointed. 

Filled with great acting, writing and a mixed genre, Brassed Off is a great British film experience.

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