This month Cinema Saltdean presents Fisherman's Friends (12A) on Tuesday 24th September.
The Cornish settings are beautifully captured in this film. An additional character in this heartwarming story - not to be missed.
Fisherman’s Friends (12A): Tuesday 25th September
I hope that you had a good summer. If you missed going away, here’s your chance to sample a bit of delightful Cornwall and listen to some familiar sea shanties at the same time.
English folk has a history of regional variation and the Cornish tradition is well represented in this light-hearted and easy-going British comedy.
You may have seen some of the plot devices before and you will certainly be familiar with the songs. Feel free to sing along to ‘What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor?’, etc. No prizes for best voice this time around. Cornwall is the unsung star of the film, reminding us of our own idyllic days in one of England’s best-loved regions.
In 2010, a Cornish all-male folk ensemble released an album of sea shanties that reached number 9 in the UK chart. As quirky inspirational stories go, it’s hardly up there with ‘Calendar Girls’, but it has nonetheless been puréed into a double helping of feel-good mush. In real life, the Fisherman’s Friends were discovered by radio DJ Johnnie Walker, during a holiday to the fishing village of Port Isaac: a tale that lends itself more naturally to an item on breakfast TV than an entire feature film.
Writers Meg Leonard, Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft have reworked it into a formulaic comedy of opposites, with an obligatory town mouse/country mouse romance on the side. In the fictionalised version, the group are initially signed as a practical joke, after a braying record label executive (Noel Clarke) and his jaundiced A&R man Danny (Daniel Mays) watch them playing a harbourside gig during a stag weekend on the coast.
The prank doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose, beyond wasting the label’s own time and money, but gives the film an excuse to strand Danny in their picturesque village for what feels like weeks on end, as he starts to believe the band’s froth-tossed harmonies of yore might connect with a modern crowd. As such, he has to persuade the 10 singers to give stardom a crack, starting with their sceptical alpha-baritone Jim (a very good James Purefoy), whose daughter Alwyn (Tuppence Middleton) becomes another good reason for Danny to persuade the locals that he’s the real deal.
Director Chris Foggin has assembled a talented and likeable cast, as the ruddy-cheeked chanteurs; and the film is shot on location in the relentlessly spectacular north Cornwall.
Hapless heroes and underdogs are what inspires us to root for characters in fiction. There is plenty of rooting to be done here. ‘Fisherman’s Friends’ is awash with romantic interest that goes wrong; misunderstandings that almost bring about the capsizing of the local pub; and turbulent seas that threaten the success of our singers, as the commercial realities of the London music scene hit them amidships. All seems at stake at the mercy of the ensuing storm. Man the lifeboats, me boys - and as Bette Davis once said, in ‘All About Eve’: “it’s going to be a bumpy night”.
Adapted from Robbie Collin’s review in The Telegraph.
Next month, ‘All is True’, starring Kenneth Branagh & Judy Dench … and watch out for our Christmas charity special ‘The White Crow’, December 10th, at the end of the season.