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Monday, July 4, 2011

284. Third Star


    I've been to too many funerals lately. In fact, one every month for the last three months.
    Two of those to whom I was paying my respects died of cancer, that most miserable of diseases.
    Thus, the memory of my sister-in-law Karen and my former work colleague Chris were evoked tonight when I watched Third Star at Belper Ritz.
    In Hattie Dalton's movie, cancer sufferer James (Benedict Cumberbatch) has for one last trip with his best mates Davy (Tom Burke), Bill (Adam Robertson) and Miles (JJ Feild).
    The echoes of Karen and Chris were startling and a bit upsetting.
    When Karen knew she was terminally ill she went with Mrs W and their other sister on holiday to Spain.
    At Chris's funeral last week, I heard a speech about his gang of very close mates.
    Coincidentally both Karen and Chris enjoyed walking and in the film it is James's love of walking and a remote Welsh beach which provide the focal point.
    The problem with Third Star, though, is its remorseless misery.
    We learn too much about the failings of each of the characters in a mutual slate-wiping before James faces the inevitable.
    I just didn't buy it. When people are dying those around them try absolutely everything to put a smile on their faces.
    The last thing they would do is unload their own personal problems in their direction.
    It is actually a time when bonds which might have been frayed in previous times become tight and strong.
    In The Third Star's case, the trip, at every turn suffers a setback which pulls the quartet further apart.
    It is not that the film is badly acted. It isn't. Cumberbatch is first rate and completely believable. Burke, Robertson and Feild all show considerable depth in their roles.
    Meanwhile, the cinematography is spectacular. The Welsh coast has probably never looked so good.
    And yet, from early on, I was struggling to see the point.
    Was the movie trying to say that even the best of friends are insincere until the chips are down? Or was it trying to say that deep down friends will stand by come what may?
    I honestly don't know.
    I cannot say that the idea of the trip was too far fetched. Ok, it was incredibly strenuous considering James was near his final days but, in real life, Karen fulfilled a long-held ambition to go to the Seychelles a month before she died and when she was very poorly.
    If people are determined enough, great and surprising efforts are possible.
    And it is right that a film should address the subject of cancer and its effect on nearest and dearest.
    But what a terminal illness does bring is an assessment of the great things people have done in their lives and that is what I have been left with in recent weeks.
    I have actually recognised, albeit too late, the very best in those who have departed.
    Third Star didn't give us enough of the good of these characters and in this circumstance, that seemed wrong to me.
    Mrs W has just read all of this and I have to say she doesn't agree with me wholeheartedly and she has more experience of the last months with her sister than I can possibly know. But we all view films differently and I still think there was not enough positive feeling in Third Star. .
    And on that basis I am giving it 4.5/10

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284. Third Star


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