In 1985, against the backdrop of Thatcherism, Brian Jackson enrolls in the University of Bristol, a scholarship boy from seaside Essex with a love of knowledge for its own sake and a childhood spent watching "University Challenge," a college quiz show. At Bristol he tries out for the Challenge team and falls under the spell of Alice, a lovely blond with an extensive sexual past. He's smitten, and he carelessly manages to hurt the feelings of Rebecca Epstein, a friend whose politics and wit he admires. The Challenge finale is coming up; maybe Brian can redeem himself and still avoid being a prat. Written by
The film is set in late 1985 and early 1986. The students drive to the University Challenge recording in Manchester in a Citroen 2CV car with a tax disc that expires 12/1985. However, the car itself has a "D" registration suffix, which dates the car to 1 August 1986 at the earliest. See more »
Boys Don't Cry
Performed by The Cure
Written by Robert Smith, Laurence Tolhurst, Michael Dempsey
Published by Fiction Songs Ltd. / BMG Songs, Inc. / BMG Music Publishing Ltd.
Courtesy of Elektra Entertainment Group
By Arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
Courtesy of Fiction Records / Polydor Ltd. (UK)
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises See more »
A fairly straightforward coming-of-age drama that is lifted out of its potential 'made-for-tv' appearance by good performances from a group of first rate British acting talent. The film is a well-spun tale of growing up; innocence punctured, pretensions stripped away. Ever present is the dream of going on University Challenge (the film's title is one of the show's catchphrases), the perfect metaphor for what's going on around and because of it as it relies on parroting information rather than taking good decisions.
James McAvoy plays the lead, Brian, who wants to go to university to make his deceased Dad proud (whom he used to impress when the two watched University Challenge together). All the usual tropes of going up to university are visited - going after the wrong girl, getting drunk and stoned, paying increasingly little attention to study. He also leaves friends behind in the sticks, played by half the cast of The History Boys. It's all well-handled, if a little too lightly, without much realism, bite or melodrama. Shooting star McAvoy can look back on this film without embarrassment and Rebecca Hall who may well become A-list in 2009 will do the same. 5/10
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