Friday, 21 January 2011

Film #6 It's Kind Of A Funny Story

A quick note on It's Kind Of A Funny Story. I came to the film with no expectations. I didn’t see Half Nelson, Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck's breakout film (and truth be told, I’ve never been a big fan of middle-class drug stories) but am aware of the good reviews and cult following the film achieved. I can probably be excused for missing the marketing as well, as there basically hasn't been any (nor any cinema trailers that I've seen).

I'm happy to say that it was an unexpected delight. As stories of suicidal teens voluntarily institutionalising themselves go, this was very good. Keir Gilchrist is a likeable lead as 16 year-old Craig and he is admirably supported by the usually-hateful Zach Galifinakis (who is undeniably excellent here) as his oddball-yet-kindly mentor and young Emma 'niece of Julia' Roberts as the self-harming love interest.

There is a wonderful supporting cast playing the staff and fellow patients (I'd single out Adrian Martinez, Bernard White and Jeremy Davies for particular praise); I couldn't disagree more with the likes of Peter Bradshaw (a critic with whom I tend to have divergent views) that it exploits mental health issues for comic effect - if anything it humanises psychiatric illness in a way that few films have been able to (One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest is a key touchstone for the film, and the eagle-eyed will notice a few nods). The story quite deftly avoids triteness through the use of much McKee-baiting voiceover and some cute animated sequences. It's admittedly a slight work, but it's so well-executed that the odd bit of syrup can be forgiven.

The music, provided largely by trendy indie combo Broken Social Scene, is lovely and we also have an early frontrunner for 'musical number of the year', with a cracking rendition of Queen and David Bowie’s Under Pressure.

One to check out on DVD if you didn't get the chance to see it at the pictures.


Screening notes – a few points:
1) I went to an 11.30pm screening, and it was surprisingly busy (about fifteen people).
2) Not so busy, however, that it was necessary for a group of half-cut latecomers to bundle in during the opening credits and take the their seats on the same row as me, including the adjacent seat. Cue much whispering, laughing at the wrong moments and the obligatory smartphone usage throughout. Thankfully they bundled back out again with about twenty minutes to go.
3) A pet hate I have at Mundo del Cine is the security. I had a hi-vis bouncer stroll in three times during this film, once deciding to take a view-obscuring walk fully halfway up the stairs

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