Director: Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant Release Date: April 14th Review by Dylan Spicer Something admirable about Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant is that they are constantly branching out with new styles of project, whether it is a groundbreaking sitcom, the most successful podcast of all time, or a hit animated series. They now turn their hand to a British social realist piece, namely Cemetery Junction. Following three friends growing up in a suburb of Reading, it contains elements of a touching comedy and a serious drama. The direction is surprisingly straight, and there are several scenes where you will not believe you are watching the same people who created the Ogg-Monster. The only real sign of their previous work are the cameos by Gervais and Merchant, which feel straight out The Office. Although an instant crowd pleaser, they do jar with the absolute departure of the rest of the film. But strong acting throughout engages you from the start. The three leads are both strong and varied in their performance, and everyone who goes to see this will be able to relate to them on some level. The supporting cast is just as strong, with special note going to Steve Spiers as the tough but kind cop, and Matthew Goode as the ultimate salesman. Cemetery Junction feels more like a fairy-tale than a social realist piece. This is both its greatest weakness and its greatest strength. The message of the film is very blatant, and this leads to several points of the film dragging. The ending can be seen a long way off, and if it wasn’t for some good dialogue, everything would feel a little corny. There are also a couple of gags that don’t really work. At its heart, this is not a comedy, and the jokes that come from the plot organically work a lot better than the obscene tattoos and silly singing scenes, which feel a little forced. However, there is a real magic feeling throughout, and the film contains a great energy that really carries it through. This is seen most strikingly in its cinematography. The film looks gorgeous, with huge credit going to the DP and the production designer creating a world that is dripping with colour and little details. It feels more like an American independent such as The Talented Mr Ripley than Fish Tank, and is a lesson to us all that our cinema can explore British identity, whilst also looking sumptuous. If you’re a Gervais/Merchant fan, add one on to the score, and make sure you don’t miss it. Yet even those who are not familiar with their work will find a lot of reasons to watch it. Photobucket