6 December 2013 | euroGary
When the top-billed name in a cast list is Norman Pace (of 'Hale and...' fame), you know you're not watching an A-list film. But 'Breakfast with Jonny Wilkinson' is the kind of production I think the British film industry excels at: small, character-driven comedy-dramas that are quintessentially - well, British - during which you can enjoy spotting people more familiar from the television screen (in this case, alumni of 'The Bill', 'Poirot' and 'Casualty', among others). The big-budget stuff we can leave to Hollywood.
Written by cast member Chris England, this is set during the Rugby Union World Cup final (England v Australia) of 2003. A group of rugby club members gather in their suburban clubhouse to watch the action from Sydney on the big screen, but secrets and lies threaten to derail the occasion. Why haven't more of the members turned up? Just how far will the club's Australian member go to become club chairman? How bad is the current chairman's health, actually? How embarrassing is it that, with five male teams, it's only the club's sole female team that have ever actually won anything? How sleazy is the journalist who turns up? And can it really be true that the club's young star player has a telepathic link with the titular England wing? With just three sets - the club bar, the pitch and the changing room - and only seven characters, this film's origins as a stage play are very evident. And it's not hugely original. But it's a warm-hearted production, with engaging if largely one-dimensional characters (a scene where they all, including the women, imagine themselves clad in England strip taking part in the last few minutes of the final's play will resonate with many viewers, I'm sure). In short, a very enjoyable, feel-good film, even for those of us for whom Jonny Wilkinson is the only English rugby player we can actually name...