This is a really nice film. I have just seen it for the 4th time. Set in 1985, it begins, however, when Brian is younger. Sat in front of the the TV with his Mum and Dad watching University Challenge. It sets up exactly what sort of person Brian is and what he wants to become. Mark Gatiss has an astonishing likeness to presenter Bamber Gascoine in these scenes that it seems you are watching the actual show!
Action, soon moves to '85 and we learn that Brian's Dad had passed away 9 years earlier. It is here where the great soundtrack kicks in. Alright, a few of the songs came out after 1985 but we won't quibble too much about that. There are some great songs throughout the film from the likes of The Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen, Tears For Fears, New Order, The Undertones, The Style Council and many more. There are at least four songs by The Cure too. All of which work well in the film. I very much like the allusion to how terrible it would be to become the sort of person who plays Kate Bush, then we here Brian listening to her very softly in scene on New Years Eve, with Rebecca.
James Corden makes a brief appearance once or twice in the film. Dominic Cooper's journey as Spencer and how it affects other people plays well. Catherine Tate, even though she is only a few years older than James McAvoy in reality, comes across as a very lovely character in playing Brian's Mum. A special mention also to the wonderful Bendedict Cumberbatch who shines as the bitter, obnoxious yet likable Patrick. His journey is more subtle in the film but he becomes a better person too.
Rebecca Hall and Alice Eve play, ironically, Rebecca and Alice, and here is the great subtleness of this film. Alice comes over very sweet and you find yourself loving her character to begin with. She is the archetypal blonde bombshell. She is, however, clever enough to answer the good questions on the quiz team and once again that is the subtleness of the film. McAvoy isn't your typical geek and Eve isn't your typical dumb blonde. Her character plays out as a bit of a reckless, sexual and fickle girl but very intelligent. You can't help being drawn to her in certain parts of the film. Rebecca is your alternative, political activist, sensible thinking and, i must say, very very attractive girl. Both in natural beauty, intelligence and personality. You, again, find yourself falling for her as well, but for different, better reasons!!! This, by the way was Hall's first feature film.
The film follows the trials and tribulations of sorting a team for the filming of University Challenge, Brian's rising yearning for Alice, then Rebecca then Alice again. His studies suffer and he seems to get lost on his journey.
Without going into too much detail, when Brian returns from Alice after the debacle of staying for New Year, he meets up with Rebecca and the scene when it is approaching midnight, and with only two minutes to go she asks him how they can waste time as they sit side by side on his bed, the tenderness and beauty of her approach to kiss him, and how they kiss, is really touching and feels very real.
There are so many moments that are really lovely in this film like the importance of Brians' Dad's jacket to Brian, his learning curve about who he is and his journey, to name just a few. The moment on the date with Alice when he cries, talking about his Dad, on original viewing was a emotional moment, but having recently lost my Mother, i found this now very upsetting, yet beautifully played. The song "The Hurting" by Tears For fears works perfectly as Brian makes the earth shattering mistake with the question, near the end of the film. His shame and how he feels is really emphasised by that song. A great choice.
The message of the film is as simple as this: No matter what mistakes you have made, it is what you do next that matters. You can't lock yourself away forever when you make a mistake or something bad happens. Having been struggling with grief lately, i gained the realisation that this is happening to me. It made me realise that the only person that can put things back on track, is me! It is funny how life experience can alter you feelings towards a film and can change what affect it has to you on later viewings.
Once Brian, having shut himself away for a long while, faces his demons and returns to Bristol University, the first thing he does is search out Rebecca. Bumping into Alice on the way he quickly tells her it is not her he is looking for. Then, when he find Rebecca, and they talk, the sincere way he asks if she can forgive him for all his mistakes, the way she tells him he already knows the answer to that and the wonderful way they kiss once again, is just so beautiful. I have to say is one of the the most beautiful kisses i have ever seen on film. The way they are pressing themselves into once another and the way their lips touch and the gorgeous smile Rebecca gives as they kiss is really moving. It is like no one else matters and no one else is around them, even though they are surrounded by hundreds of people.
This is a great, feel good movie. It won't blow you away but it will make you smile. A film i will watch again and again. Perhaps in a year it may have even more profound effect on me, when i am back on the road of my journey.