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Film Review: Son of Rambow

Son of Rambow (2007; Directed by Garth Jennings)

Garth Jennings’ smart and silly tribute to childhood imagination does for backyard filmmaking what The Sandlot did for neighbourhood baseball. Namely, Son of Rambow unmoors the creative id of youth from mere indulgent nostalgia and allows it to float free on a sea of dreams. But it’s also a sneaky allegorizing of the ups and downs of the collaborative creative process.

Oddly enough, this is pretty much how Stallone got his start, too.

The friendship and cinematic partnership of Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) and Lee Carter (Will Poulter) overcomes social and familial obstacles, is run through the gauntlet of peer recognition and cliquish poseurhood, and nearly runs aground on the ever-popular rocks of “creative differences”. That it emerges intact should tell us more about the generic demands of even an indie comedy than of its particular tensile strength. Furthmore, it would seem to me that Will’s fertile visual imagination would be likely to have more of a future in animation than in the nuts-and-bolts live-action filmmaking that the practical Lee is most suited to.

The closing note, however, is one of fledgling artistic union, of melding disparate abilities and playing to each other’s strengths. This surely must be a textualizing of the director’s own creative partnership with producer Nick Goldsmith under the Hammer & Tongs imprint. Interesting that for this fictionalization of their collaboration, however, Jennings has sole credit.

What Jennings’ film does better than merely reflecting his own amateur filmmaking apprenticeship is to craft a perfectly air-tight space for the delirious creative energies of childhood to run rampant. It then cleverly uses that space to comment on how those same energies are accessed, activated, and navigated to completion in a more dissipated form by adults (or should we call them older children?). And it’s worth a mention that Son of Rambow is pretty funny and surprisingly tender without being maudlin. Not an easy balance to strike, either.

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