Precocious Oliver struggles with being popular in school but when a dark-haired beauty takes interest in him, he's determined to become the best boyfriend in the world. Meanwhile, his parents' already rocky relationship is threatened when his mother's ex-boyfriend moves in next door. Oliver makes some unorthodox plans to ensure that his parents stay together and that Jordana still likes him. Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. A UK version of a teen comedy is quite a different experience than a US teen comedy. Maybe it's the source material from Joe Dunthorne's novel or maybe it's the deft touch of first time director Richard Ayoade. Either way, there is much more depth and emotion involved here ... not just sight gags.
The two leads are Craig Roberts as Oliver and Yasmin Paige as Jordana. Watching the way these two work so hard at not appearing to like each other perfectly captures the teen dance. Once they do get together, the film does a nice job of creating those perfect moments of doubt, discovery and subtle humiliation.
Oliver is carrying quite the burden. He strives to be the perfect boyfriend, but is also very concerned about the slow collapse of his parents' marriage. This problem is enhanced when his mom's old lover moves in across the street. Graham Purvis is some self-proclaimed mystic healer who somehow gets people to pay attention to his words, despite driving around town in a van with his face painted on the side.
Oliver's parents are played by Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins. Taylor is superb as the quietly suffering loner who has no concept of what makes a relationship. Hawkins is the disillusioned wife eager to recapture the magic of her youth ... even if it is with a goofball mystic played by Paddy Considine.
I have to point out that Craig Roberts, who plays Oliver, is the spitting image of a young Bud Cort ... and even has some of Cort's mannerisms from the classic Harold and Maude. Mostly Oliver and Jordana are just two regular teenagers fighting angst, depression and self-doubt, not to mention REAL issues like disinterested parents and a very sick mother. Turns out, being a teen is every bit as tough in the UK as it is in the US ... but the dialogue is much better!
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