Michael Sheen plays Colin, a very ineffectual but well-meaning sort, who is obsessed bydarts and has a bored wife. When she takes off with the captain of Colin’s dart team, Colindecides to travel to Blackpool (“the Las Vegas of the North”) to win her back. He mounts hisscooter and heads off on a picaresque adventure, and each encounter he has along the way hasa transformative effect.
I confess, I had my reservations. The first act is set in what is rapidly becoming … cliche ofcontemporary British comedy: an emphatically deglamorized, depressing industrial town. Thefirst portion of Colin’s road trip is hampered by having a few too many plot-stopping folk songscrammed into the picture. And a number of the encounters are not exactly surprising. ButSheen’s performance is most endearing, and by the end, the picture has built up a huge store ofgood-will with the viewer, and the last half-hour is particularly moving. And yes, the film isfunny, but in a very gentle, bittersweet way.
The folk songs may be too numerous, but they sound wonderful, with excellent separation ofthe instruments. The left-right separation is superb, and really comes into its own in the scenesinvolving dart games, with a very distinctive thwock sounding left or right, depending onthe direction of the dart’s flight. The surround is effective when called for (this is a quiet film),but the forest scene, for instance, has wonderful wind and birdsong effects.
The picture has fine contrasts, and the colours are very good, whether what we are seeing isthe dismal greyness of Colin’s home town or the damp but inviting green of the heaths as hetravels. The image is sharp, and there is no grain, nor any problematic edge enhancement.
Nothing except a trailer for Jersey Girl (?!).
The film’s initial tone might be a downer, but stick with it. The emotional payoff is worth thejourney.
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