Thursday, 7 January 2010

The week in film...

For the first of 2010's 'This week in film' I have stumbled across one of 2009's best (and most criminally underrated) films.

Adventureland (2009) - Greg Mottola

I am a total sucker for these indie 'rom coms' and usually I have to explain them away as some kind of dirty guilty secret but with Adventureland I have no apologies to make as this is a genuinely sweet and sincere film. OK it's rehashing of the 'boy meets girl, girl leads him on whilst screwing him over with another guy, so boy gets back with second girl before realising he loves the first' is not the most original story in the book but it manages to portray the ridiculousness of young love and 'courting' to such a great extent that anyone in (or who remembers their) youth can't help but give a wry smile.

The story centres on James, a recent Literature graduate who has just had his heart broken and his dreams of a post-graduation trip to Europe dashed. Finding himself with precious little practical experience in the field of work (an experience I can definitely relate to) he is forced to join the ranks of the crummiest local employer, the eccentric and decaying funfair Adventureland.

At the fair he meets many of the local losers (who surprise surprise turn out to be really quite lovable and cool in their own way) including pipe smoking Joel, funfair diehard Bobby and Em, the girl that James is destined to fall for. The action, such as it is takes place largely on the fair in the succession of smalltown dives the characters hang out in, and is concerned with the attempts of James to get a girl who, outwardly it seems, is much more worldly and cool than he is.

One of the great successes of the film is the balance of humour, which consistently succeeds in never becoming crass and overly juvenile whilst still being fun and silly in parts. The lead actor, Jesse Eisenberg, playing James, is something of a revelation of subtly wry self aware misery. He definitely gives Michael Cera a run for his money as a leading indie lead.

The outstanding feature of the film is however the soundtrack. Rarely has a film soundtrack been so much in touch with my own tastes. The film is set in 1987 Pittsburgh and the music largely reflects this with major featured tracks from the likes of The Replacements, Husker Du, Yo La Tengo and The Jesus and Mary Chain, along with some classics from Lou Reed, Big Star and The New York Dolls. This film is definitely one to check out for any punk/indie fan.

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