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Regardt van den Bergh
Matthew Dylan Roberts
Eleven-year-old David Wiseman is mad about cricket but no good at it. He has the entire kit but none of the skill, and he's a laughingstock at school. So when a Jamaican family moves in next door and builds a cricket net in the back garden, David is in seventh heaven. But this is 1960s Britain, and when the neighbours start to make life difficult for the new arrivals, David's family is caught in the middle, and he has to choose between fitting in and standing up for the new friends who have turned his world upside-down. Written by
This is a delightful and very entertaining movie. You do not have to be mad on cricket to love it (my partner Janie proves that point) but I suspect it helps.
My own background is quite similar to that of the young lad (not quite so long ago, not quite so poor, not quite so bad at cricket without coaching, not quite so good with coaching......) so my own views on the films charms and resonances are probably unrepresentative. Suffice it to say that the film touched almost all of the right buttons.
There are some lovely, amusing bits. For example, one sequence shows several short shots of the characters playing "yard cricket", including one shot of them trying to practice catching in their sowesters in the pouring rain. Hilarious and delightful.
The racism theme is handled with great sensitivity, but without the complexity that might otherwise make the film profound rather than obvious. The film is sentimental, at the end especially so, to the point of being cheesy. But then quattro formaggio with extra cheese and parmesan on top tastes pretty good.
There are one or two historical anomalies. Most reports of the film I have seen refer to the date as 1960. West Indies toured England with Worrell and Sobers in 1957 & 1963. Worrell was finished by 1966. I think it must therefore be 1963. But there's a lovely scene where the Jewish mother and West Indian father dance to "I'm in a Dancing Mood" by Delroy Wilson - published 1966. In fact most of the Ska (or should I describe some of it as Rock Steady) would have been post 1963 I think. But I suppose I should get a life rather than fret about these things - the music was wonderful. And juxtaposing Ska with "Micky Katz and his Kosher Jammers" and yard cricket worked surprisingly well.
It is a lovely film and well worth the investment of 106 minutes to smile, laugh and be moved.
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