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REVIEW: 'Cemetery Junction'

REVIEW: 'Cemetery Junction'

REVIEW: 'Cemetery Junction', Flicks.co.nz

4 stars


A 1970s-set comedy-drama from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, creators of TV's The Office and Extras. Centers on three young working-class men from Reading, England, who spend their time joking, drinking, fighting and chasing girls.Now playing in cinemas nationwide.

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The Office and Extras are two of the best television shows of recent times – the former has indeed become a classic of televisual history, propelling a snub-nosed fat guy to international stardom. But the often-overlooked half of the creative genius is a ‘goggle-eyed freak’ called Stephen Merchant. After sidestepping the dire The Invention of Lying, which suggested the well had run dry for Gervais, Merchant returns here to rejoin his directing partner and to prove just how dependable and skilful they can be as a team.

It’s evident that Cemetery Junction combines the two things they do best – empathy for the ordinary working bloke and a romantic disposition – delivering the audience an unabashedly feel-good and identifiable crowdpleaser. The good-hearted story weaves between hilarity and moments of heartbreak (take, for example, the callous send-off to a long-term employee), ensuring that the viewer can’t help but be swept up in the dramedy.

Visually, the movie is beautiful. It’s unlikely that a 1970s Reading looked quite this picture-perfect; sunny days, quaint cottages, chic discos. The soundtrack is top-notch, featuring vintage Elton John, Roxy Music, T-Rex, Slade, Bowie and Zeppelin. Sashaying through this golden-hued nostalgia-rama are three hugely likeable leads. They are said to have auditioned as a team and their natural camaraderie shines through.

Is there anything new, cutting-edge or daring about Cemetery Junction? Well, not really. If you’re looking for narrative surprise or formal invention, you’re barking up the wrong tree. But Gervais-Merchant’s feature debut is rock-solid. It’s a sweet, warm comedy-drama, refreshingly free of cynicism. Miles away from the drab office or the functional studio backlot, their radiant Cemetery Junction is somewhere you’ll love to visit.

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