Saturday, 7 February 2009

Faintheart



Last night we watched Faintheart, a British comedy starring Eddie Marsan (an actor whose name you might not know but you whose face you'll recognize from 'stuff') and Jennifer Hynes (that bird from 'Spaced', and that one good episode of Dr. Who where he forgets who is). The film is distinguished by the fact that it was developed and cast through My Space, but to me that's not important. Most reviews you will read online aren't very good. That's not important to me, either. I just thought it was brilliant.

The main character, Richard, is a member of a Viking battle re-enactment group called 'The Broadswords'. Being in this group is the most important thing in his life, it's the source of his identity. When Richard nearly misses the funeral of his wife's father because it conflicts with a battle re-enactment, turning up in the middle of the service wearing chain-mail, his wife Cath decides she's had enough and throws him out. Richard moves in with his best friend, Julian, a Star Trek fan who works in a comic shop and lives with his mum. The rest of the film concerns itself with how Richard plots to win Cath back from the high school PE teacher she's taken up with, as well as the respect of his barely teenage son, whose life is made a misery at school because of Richard's eccentric hobby and friends. The plot is predictable and formulaic. So what? I thought it was a wonderful little film!

Just a couple of days after I moved to England in August 2002, Derek took me to Bosworth Field, where I saw my first battle re-enactment, re-enactor's camps, booths and falconers. Since then, I've been to many cathedrals and castles, battlefields, medieval walls and Roman ruins. Hey, I've been to a few Comic Cons. Derek's sister and her husband are keen history buffs, Derek and his friends are all fanboys, so--well, I can relate. Heck, my husband wears a Darth Vader belt buckle every day of his life! This, in many ways, is my England. These are my people! And they're wonderful--sincere, enthusiastic, child-like and charming.

The thing that's so great about this film, that's so English, is how genuinely affectionate it is toward these people, while acknowledging a sort of wistful poignancy in the type of nostalgia and what might be considered almost 'arrested development' that leads to these sorts of hobbies becoming your entire life. There is a darkness here, too, a bleakness, that's quintessentially English. Things don't go right for Richard or his friend Julian. The future doesn't look bright. You get the feeling there may be no hope. All Richard's plots backfire. Julian's attempt to meet up with a fellow Trekkie called Kim (an online contact) lands him in jail! And yet, everything turns out all right. They might not be understood in the 'real world', but they understand each other and that's all that matters. Ends up it's okay to be a little ... different.


I will not sell my toy collection
If I did I would weep
Who's to say what you need and what you don't
On a desert island they're the things I'd keep

Some children had their parents read them stories
Well I heard mine directly from the source
Captain Kirk shared his tales and glories
while fighting a deadly force

Who's to say when you get older
you don't need a toy collection?
Who's to say when you get older
that you have to follow convention?

Black beard told me of his troubled mother
And with his songs he'd sing me off to sleep
He said Superman was my real father
And they gave me dreams that I still keep

Who's to say when you get older
you don't need a toy collection?
Who's to say when you get older
that you have to follow convention?

Who's to say when you get older
you don't need a toy collection?
Who's to say when you get older
that you have to follow convention?
That you have to follow convention?

'Toy Collection' by Katie Melua, written for 'Faintheart'

2 comments:

Derek said...

A thoroughly wonderful film, very entertaining....especially as it references a cultural sub-genre we know so much about.
How funny to see the Birmingham "Nostalgia and Comics" shop featured ....we've been in there a few times over the years! :)

Tara said...

This sounds like a fantastic film and now I must figure out how to watch it. Thanks for mentioning it or I might have never known about it!