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Brassed Off combines inspiring drama with populist socioeconomics to create a film whose familiar outlines are filled in with genuine and surprisingly palpable emotion. Read critic reviews
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Audience Reviews for Brassed Off
Aug 29, 2013Another pretty good movie from Mark Herman, who also did Little Voice, a movie I reviewed a couple of days ago. And, like Little Voice, there's a more serious message at its core. Though this movie did it far more openly than Little Voice ever did. Of course, the movie wears its message on its sleeves and that message is shitting on the government for closing down mining pits that have led, since the 80s, to 250,000 people losing their jobs. The movie sees a community of miners, who also happen to be in a brass band, fighting to keep their jobs, fighting what is, most likely, a losing battle. The brass band is the only thing that is really keeping them together during this difficult time, so the movie is definitely as dramatic as it is comedic. But there is a problem with this. It's not bad, and I actually did like the dramatic stuff. While cliched and a little sappy, its characters are likable and easy to relate to. The problem is that, outside of a few exceptions, the comedy and the drama never mix. The movie goes like this the first 40 minutes or so of the movie are the comedic portion of the film. This first part of the film is like one film unto itself. The next 40 minutes are dedicated to the more serious stuff, with little to any comedy. The last 20 minutes of the movie are the preparation for the finals and the finals itself, nothing really funny or dramatic here...well other than Danny's speech when they win, which was probably a little preachy, yet still effective. And I think that's a problem, the movie never finds the right balance at all. It's like you'd tell your children, boys play with boys and girls play with girls. Except that in this case it's the comedy and the drama. The movie just never finds a consistent tone. I realize a lot of movies take this same approach. Yet, somehow, in this movie it's far more obvious than in a lot of other movies. It was really jarring to spend 40 straight minutes without a single laugh. And, again, I think they do a good job at really showing how the government's decision will negatively affect many families, this is illustrated the most in Phil's character, but I think this part of the movie could've used a little more comedy. And that's this movie's biggest problems, the comedy and the drama in this film are kept as far apart as is humanly possible. Because of that, it ends up feeling like 2 different movies in one. I think the writing is solid, the comedy is good but, much like Little Voice, not laugh out loud funny. I really did like the movie. If it hadn't been for the way the two genres were kept apart as if they were allergic to one another. But this movie has all the ingredients, a solid cast, some good writing and some social commentary. Granted the social commentary is WAY to obvious but, again, the movie makes a lot of good points. Still the movie is, structurally, a goddamn mess. Pretty good movie but a disappointment in some regards.
Feb 09, 2011Quaint little story about miners from a Northern England town losing their quarry but finding unity in their brass band. Apparently it's a true story, the film is completely accurate, and the band still plays today (and indeed provide the soundtrack). Although not the most engrossing story ever, it is heart warming in a way that grows on you with time.
Jan 24, 2011Set in the mid 1990's against the backdrop of post-Miners Strike Yorkshire, Brassed Off centres around the fictional town of Grimley where the local Coal pit has been earmarked for closure, the local brass band leader Danny (Pete Postlethwaite) is struggling to prevent the break up of the band as well. Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald) returns to her home town and becomes the band's only female member and star flugel horn player, whilst having to hide the fact that she is writing a viability study to decide the fate of the mine. All the while, young band member Andy (Ewan McGregor) is hoping that she's come back to sort out the "unfinished business" of a childhood fumble behind the bus station. To add to Danny's woes, his son Phil (Stephen Tompkinson) has his own troubles. Broke, with a broken trombone, debt collectors on the doorstep and wife seeking to leave him... these are troubles that even his alter ego, Mr Chuckles the clown, can't fix. In the face of the impending pit closure and Danny's failing health, can the band make one final tilt at the National Championship at the Royal Albert Hall? Brassed Off is one my favourites for several reasons, including one very personal reason. I'll get the personal reason out of the way first, Brassed Off was my late Grand-dad's favourite film and it never failed to get both a tear and a smile out of him every time he watched it. Now to the other reasons, the writing of Brassed Off is clever and works on different levels. The plight of the town's pit is echoed alongside Danny's personal plight - whilst the town is threatened to have the guts ripped out of it by the pit closure, Danny's own life is threatened to have the guts ripped out of it - both physically through the illness of breathing in coal dust and emotionally through the impending break up of the band. In addition to this, you see the conflicts facing the characters at different levels. Against the backdrop of the miners threatening to tear each other apart over the redundancy package, this is shown at a more intimate level as the news of Gloria's true reasons for returning to Grimley threaten to tear apart the fledgling romance between her and Andy. The music is of an extremely high quality with a score by Trevor Jones that keys into the emotion of the film whilst acknowledging the roots of the film. In addition to this are songs including Floral Dance, Jerusalem, William Tell Overture and Danny Boy are performed by The Grimethorpe Colliery Band. To match the script and the music are blistering performances by an ensemble group of actors at the top of their game and it feels a shame to single out performances. Ewan McGregor and Tara Fitzgerald are believable as the reunited lovers, Andy and Gloria, on the verge of rekindling their relationship all the while under the threat of being torn apart by the events going on and the opinions of Andy's friends. Stephen Tompkinson portrayal of Phil is both tragic and poignant throughout. What starts as a man who is trying to make ends meet following past events becomes a man who loses his wife, children and most tellingly, hope. Particularly powerful is the scene where he describes the unfairness of his situation in the guise of Mr Chuckles at a children's harvest festival prior to making a suicide attempt. Last, and by certainly no means least, is the performance of the late, great Pete Postlethwaite as Danny. I could try to put many adjectives to his performance - magnetic, powerful and driven being amongst them. Suffice it to say, Postlethwaite's performance is the driving force behind the emotion for the film - especially towards the film's conclusion. If you haven't seen this film, please give it a go. Whilst the character of Danny says that it's "music that matters", the music is a contributing factor but great stories about people with brilliant actors are why we go to the cinema.Theta S Super Reviewer
Jan 11, 2011A lovable, if formulaic and slightly predictable, film concerning a dying town in England which has been ravaged by poor politicians, and how the citizens there interact and keep each other's spirits strong through the use of forming their own music band. The real reason to see this movie is for the late great Pete Postlethwaite, who is one of the best actors ever in my opinion, and he once again delivers a stunning performance as the band's emotional orchestrator. As said, it is not a perfect movie and at one point it threatens to get a bit too into the dark aspects of it, but Postlethwaite's performance coupled with a well-paced plot and incredibly satisfying ending makes this one a winner in the end.Dan S Super Reviewer