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Son of Rambow

Son of Rambow


Life imitates art in Son of Rambow, perhaps the most well-received film at the Sundance Film Festival and certainly the most crowd-pleasing.

Life imitates art in Son of Rambow, perhaps the most well-received film at the festival and certainly the most crowd-pleasing. This tale of two young British boys making a movie was made by two Brits who are young at heart: the artistic team Hammer & Tongs (aka Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith) who are responsible for some of the most inventive music videos of the last decade. If you can remember the anthropomorphized milk carton from Blur's Coffee & TV, or the elongated muppet musicians of Supergrass's Pumping on Your Stereo, you'll appreciate just how well-suited these two are to make a film about childhood imagination, and how lucky they were to find child actors as marvelously inventive as they are.

Young Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) is the kind of kid without very many friends. Born into a strict Plymouth Brethren family, he isn't allowed to listen to the radio or even watch TV. The latter mandate gets Will exiled to the hallway when his class puts on a nature documentary, and it's there that he meets charming troublemaker Lee Carter (Will Poulter), who promptly shanghais Will into making a stunt-laden, homegrown Rambo sequel that they will direct together. Since it's the eighties, and they're still in elementary school, neither boy has many resources besides his imagination, but the film is a love letter to art made under duress. Even the letter "w" added to the title of their film (Son of Rambow) to avoid copyright infringement ends up giving it a personality all its own.

Anyone who's ever spent time on a film set will appreciate the affectionate ways this film parodies the experience, but that knowledge isn't vital to enjoying Son of Rambow. The two boys' excitement is contagious, and their unlimited imagination is so well-realized by the Hammer & Tongs crew that every frame bursts with loving detail. There's a memorable scene where the sheltered Will watches Rambo: First Blood for the first time and his mind reels from the amazing sights on display. It's hard not to feel the same way watching this.

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Kyle Buchanan