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"...Third Star On The Left...Straight On 'Til Morning..." - Third Star on DVD
on 24 November 2011
The affection afforded this British movie by other UK reviewers is absolutely on the money - "Third Star" is a superbly realised little film with a huge beating heart. I was very moved...
The story goes like this - James' lifelong but hapless pals decide that one last adventure will be a hoot and morale booster for their mate who is dying from an incurable disease - so they drag his three-wheeler chair loaded up with tents, drug suplies and a potted tree they will plant at journey's end - across fields, forest and coastal terrain. Their destination is Barafundle Bay - a stunning, secluded inlet in Wales that James adores. And you can see it in James' face too. He thinks that if he can just get there 'intact' - everything will be all right somehow. But of course nothing goes to plan and despite the odd belly-laugh along the way, the journey tests their friendship and loyalties to the absolute limit...
First up - praise has to go to HATTIE DALTON for her warmth and steady Direction in what could have been awfully cheesy material that's been done to bits too many times before. She's given this buddy-buddy story a lightness of touch that feels real and isn't forced. In fact, the constant wit and pranks reflect just how guys are when they're in real emotional turmoil - downright childish even. Kudos should also go to the four male leads who had to gel together convincingly, muck in on the arduous trek and physically brave the coastal weather - none of which can have been easy - or in the case of the freezing Irish sea - deeply unpleasant. And when the reality of their friend's terminal illness slowly begins to kick in and intrude on their 'fun' - they're skills as good actors make you 'feel' the heaviness of what their characters are all trying to block out.
Principal lead Benedict Cumberbatch has many fans - and on the strength of his acting chops both here and on "Sherlock" (the UK TV series) - it's easy to see why. His James is a demanding lead-role - a frustrated 29-year old who is being eaten-alive by cancer. His longing to live - to have more time - to realise at least some of his dreams - are always at the surface - and you ache for him as he slips in and out of a morphine-induced stupor that is numbing his escalating physical agony. As well as the pain - James has to also contend with his squabbling, tetchy pals - who are trying to be cool about it all but are freaked out inside and increasingly awkward with his now impending loss.
His fellow travellers consist of Adam Robertson as the witty and yet dependable Bill, Tom Burke as the needy but sincere Davy and JJ Feild as the handsome devil-may-care Miles (surely a new Jude Law in the making). They will even encounter Hugh Bonneville (of Downton Abbey fame) as a nutty Beachcomber looking for rare Star Wars toys. The dialogue is playful, smart and confrontational when it's needed. And then they're faced with the ultimate true-friendship decision - but can any or all of them - actually go through with it? Even with this much sadness at its core and end, "Third Star" remains hopeful - a sign of a great film rather than just a good one.
EXTRAS include a brief 'Making Of' and two shorts by Hattie Dalton called "The Banker" and "One Of Those Days". The only real let down for me is that it's on DVD only - and not BLU RAY - where all that great camera work would surely shine even more.
There are moments in "Third Star" when you genuinely ache for James' loss - when you hurt at the arbitrary cruelty of life - snubbing out one person, but letting another live. This is a very good movie - one that celebrates life and makes you think about it too.
Put it high on your rental/to buy list...