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In giving a movie ten stars I feel like I really have to explain why
but I'm not sure I even can. The first reviewer on this movie talks
about how boring most of the movie is but I have to say I disagree.
Although I can see how some people might not be enraptured by parts of
the film I really enjoyed all of it, even the parts that seemed
unimportant. I thought the acting was amazing, everyone did a perfect
job, there were humorous parts that sort of caught you off guard and
you CANNOT help but sympathize heavily with these characters.
And then there's the ending. I have to agree that the ending is the best part of the film, and I also have to say that I never cry at movies.
I really don't. I might get teary eyed at a sentimental or touching scene but I have only actually cried at a movie maybe twice in my life. I cried at this movie a LOT, and rather heavily. And at the end I sat through the entire credit reel just crying and crying. I generally don't like sad movies but this was beautiful and tells an amazing story about friends and what they'll do for each other even in terrible situations no one should have to deal with. It's short, and perfectly so.
And I'm just not sure I can express beyond this how much this movie has EFFECTED me. I will buy it at some point and it will be in my list of top ten movies of all time. I'm shocked by the low viewer ratings but I do realize a lot of people have a hard time with "slow moving" films and I suppose this could qualify as one but the slow moving plot really sets the mood and gets you attached to the characters before the end. And I just must say I loved this movie.
Third Star could almost be described as viewer reverse-engineered. Once
you've seen the ending, it's fairly easy not only to justify the tedium
of the rest of the film but to see meaning and relevance in material
that almost sent you despairing to the nearest emergency exit. Several
people even walked out in the press screening I attended, which is
unusual. If I had just gone out for a nice evening's entertainment, I'm
sure I would have headed off or even used my seat to grab a quick nap.
I'm relating this in case you find yourself in a similar dilemma: if
you do, my message is, DON'T LEAVE BEFORE THE END.
Four 30-something male friends set off for a remote area of Wales. One of them, James, is seriously ill with cancer. His mates are taking him for a holiday send-off in his favourite part of the world. External events soon make it plain they have bitten off more than they can chew. They have to surmount their insecurities to come clean and build a deeper level of trust based on total honesty. But that is only the start . . .
This is a film dedicated to the iPod generation. The society of urbanites who are more concerned with whether their iPhone will sync across several platforms than matters of life and death or even whether relationships need to be ideal when most people can, after all, "just settle for something that will do" and so let them get on with the day-to-day business of 'life.' Perhaps some people can relate better than I can to the bulk of this movie (some people did chuckle at the occasional humour). I love the beautiful opening, with the air blowing through the grass, the seawater, the fire of birthday candles flaming and then being extinguished. From thereon it seemed all horribly downhill until the end scenes which, in total contrast, practically induce a state of shock.
Characters are routinely introduced, their backstories rather artificially introduced into the dialogue. They go off on their rather boring adventure, have boring little interludes such as a village fete turning into a brawl, and a meeting with a daft beachcomber searching for washed-up Daath Vader memorabilia. Of his parents, James says, "Sickness may be mine but the tragedy is theirs." And mine too, I think, for sitting through this stuff. Hair-pulling inanities abound in the trivial conversation. How can intelligent men mouth off such superficial rubbish? I allow myself to be distracted by the nice (if totally unoriginal) sunset photography. Halfway through, as a further treat for sitting there that long, I let my mind dwell on the most fascinating thing so far, a ferry price list that says, "Ferry £3. Return £6.50." This occupies me long enough to get through the next round of male hissy fits as they argue over individually failing lives. Another bit of pleasantly contrived photography comes up as they get to their destination dancing and splashing in the sea, sunlight reflecting and sparkling (whoopee) classically off the water. Sound and vision is generally faultless, I should mention, and there's some good incidental music. What a waste (or so I thought).
Then the plotwinder kicks in with a vengeance. Dilemmas presented with frighteningly diminishing time-scales. Third Star is here fulfilling a major practical use of narrative art: making us ask, what would I do in such a situation? Any preliminary conclusions are rapidly challenged, as events shift the goal posts. Superficiality in the long lead-up becomes both a necessary factor for the denouement catching us off-guard; as well as providing commentary on how we push important questions aside for another day that (we think) never comes.
Third Star was shot in Wales on a budget of £450,000 using Super 16. Talented director Hattie Dalton and deviously clever scriptwriter Vaughan Sivell have, by accident or design, done annoyingly well. If you find yourself in a cinema watching their film, I advise you to either enjoy it or sit through it until the end. DON'T give up. Like James, 'feel the fight' in yourself one last time. You know it'll be worth it.
I am reminded of another excellent movie from a totally different genre that succeeded in misleading audiences just as as well as this one. Horror fans will recall Audition, an apparently laid-back, low-budget Asian effort. It lulled me into a sense of being able to handle with one eye shut anything such patently 'struggling filmmakers' might come up with. Only to revise my opinions with large helpings of humble pie that stuck firmly in my throat. I can't quite put Third Star in that category, but it is a damn clever movie. Even the less-than-shattering revelations mid-film, retrospectively become like the car backfiring in a noir movie (heralding a gun going off) or a door slamming in a slasher movie (heralding a bigger fright to come). But Third Star's issues are not from other-worldy fiction: they are a commentary on how we live, and how we routinely refuse to communicate on deep levels until almost too late.
The performances are intriguing and, in particular, Cumberbatch is
memorable and often mesmerizing as James, a terminally ill young man.
The scenery is beautiful, and the backdrop of the Welsh coastline
thematically frames the friends' journey to help James visit his
favorite place on earth. Although death is often the emphasis of
reviews, the film plays up the importance of love and friendship,
highlighting just what makes us alive.
The audience likely will recognize or identify with a personality or two among the four friends making the journey to Barafundle Bay, but the film doesn't resort to "types." The friends have different opinions about their own--and each other's--lives, but they share a bond that can't be broken.
As other reviewers have noted, you should stick with the film for the final payoff. Undoubtedly you'll be left with something to think about--and shouldn't that be one aim of a good film?
I really enjoyed this film. The script is written with warmth and compassion, sensitively realized by Hattie Dalton and is very impressive for a first feature. It's beautifully shot and really showcases the stunning Pembrokeshire locations. The acting is strong from the whole cast, with an inspiring central performance from Cumberbatch. Hugh Bonneville's cameo appearance is unexpected and very funny - a must see for fans! With a sharp script and well drawn, believable characters the film takes a refreshing approach to the material and stays with you long after leaving the cinema. Definitely worth a watch.
Four friends, one of whom (James) is terminally ill, go off on a last trip to James's favourite place, Barafundle Bay in Wales. The plot therefore is simplicity itself and the film captures this simple idea and makes it shine. One reviewer described the first half as 'tedium', in my opinion nothing could be further from the truth. While the dialogue may seem trivial at times, it is exactly the kind of exchange one would expect of four friends under these circumstances. Light-hearted banter, foolishness and fun offset the looming tragedy, sorrow and pain. Very rarely have I seen a film that from the first frame just felt real. This one does. No over-elaborate flashbacks to explain a backstory that isn't really needed, the actors manage to establish the friendship just through their interactions, chemistry and dialogue. The performances are excellent, especially Benedict Cumberbatch as James is truly remarkable. Four male friends on a last adventure. Fun, revelations, regrets, redemption, grief and the subtle realism of it all. Definitely worth watching!
Great film, powerful and moving. It ranges somewhere between "A Single
Man" and "Tree of Life" and definitely belongs into the
"Arthouse"-section. If you enjoy slow-paced, poetic storytelling and
are not opposed to the odd figurative metaphor this is definitely a
Anyway, at first I was frustrated because I didn't understand a lot of the dialogue. But the subtitles distracted me from the scenes and so I turned them off. I only realized about half-way through the film that it was really quite unimportant what they were talking about. It was the mood that counted, the emotions and the dynamics between the characters. To me, their emotional journey was beautifully illustrated and underlined by the gradual loss of their luggage - their worldly possessions, so to say - and artificial means of help, leaving them literally on their own with barely anything besides their naked emotions in the end, and here only the stuff that really mattered. I think one can safely say that the film truly "boils down" to its ending. Here I have to say that ALL actors were brilliant. The breathtaking Benedict Cumberbatch might have had the leading role and the most screen time in total but EVERYBODY did a fantastic job at showing the conflicting emotions that occur in this kind of situation. I also thought that everything was pretty realistic, thanks to a fabulous script. The anger, being envious of the people around you for the time they still have, the regret and bitterness but also the peace and the feeling of security that comes with knowing your destination are all feelings that one can relate to.
Besides, the film was beautifully shot and edited. The quiet pictures of the sea or of birds wheeling overhead alternating with the scenes of emotional tension, the soundtrack... it all fitted together perfectly. Anyway, prepare a big box of tissues if you plan to sit through this one. BC's performance will break your heart.
How often do we get to watch a movie and laugh in one minute, cry in
the other? When emotions run so deep that we smile through our tears
and tear up when laughing at a joke... This is what this movie did to
me. Kudos to the cast for a brilliant performance, each in their own
role, and to the director to provide a wonderful audio-visual
background to the beauty that lies in the friendships of these four
After seeing it, we ask ourselves: would we be able to do what Davy did? Could we be this strong and brave? Maybe if we love someone that much. Maybe.
Another question is: how would we deal with a serious illness? How CAN we? The alternative is wait until it vanquishes us and steals everything from us that we used to be, that used to make us what we are, or... or take the upper hand and go out screaming. Choose how we want to end it. Choose to miss many important events and great moments... because we want to feel capable... just once again. James poses this question and we are left wondering up until the end which alternative he chooses.
I strongly, highly recommend this film to everyone who loves genuine human emotions portrayed without sentimentalism, who thinks that friendship is not over-rated and that there can be times when friends are all that's left to rely on. Because in friendship, we have a choice.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The premise of this movie is pretty simple and straightforward - four good friends decide to go on a sort of backpacking journey, simple enough except that one of them is dying and this trip is his last wish in a way. For a movie that starts of a bit slow it packs a big emotional punch in the end, surprising you completely. The performances by all four leads were exceptional and you really believe these four people have been friends for years, their interactions and gestures are very believable. But Benedict Cumberbatch stood out from the rest with his subtlety and emotion that pulls you in without saying much yet making a point (the scene in the tent after he wakes up in the middle of the night with everyone sleeping comes to mind). Also the actor that played Miles was great, the last scene between him and James at the beach was almost painful to watch because it just felt so real, which is a testament to great acting on their parts. All in all, a great little gem of a movie well worth seeing, if you can pull through the slower parts it will reward you with great scenery, heartbreaking performances and a thought provoking ending.
"Third Star" was released in 2010 and, had it been a bigger film, would
have won Benedict Cumberbatch an Oscar. Stardom for him was inevitable,
however, as shortly afterward, he shot to stardom as "Sherlock" in the
PBS series. Now he's everywhere. And he deserves to be.
Made on a small budget and directed by Hattie Dalton, "Third Star" is about James, a 29-year-old (Cumberbatch) dying of rhabdomyosarcoma, a horrible cancer that attacks the muscles. He has very little time left and is dependent upon painkillers. He wants to go to his favorite place, Barafundle Bay in West Wales. So his three best friends Davy, Miles, and Bill (Tom Burke, J.J. Field, and Adam Robertson) take him, even though it's not a good idea. James is weak and has trouble walking due to the disease in one of his legs. The guys push him in a cart that also contains their luggage for the trip.
En route, we learn about them. Davy has been taking care of James since he became ill; Miles is a writer turned businessman, whose father was a successful novelist. Miles, once a very close friend of James', hasn't been in touch for a while, and we learn that he's written a book he hasn't shown anyone. Bill is living with a woman who is not the love of his life, but he can't seem to break up with her.
These guys fight, have outbursts of anger, tell each other off, laugh, and joke, each dealing with James' illness in his own way. And James deals with life and impending death in his own way. "I don't want to die. I want more time," he says, and tells his friends off for being "safe." "Life isn't about the hand you're dealt, but the hand you feel safe playing." Some tough confessions emerge. ("Your illness disgusts me.") but eventually James asks them for a final favor.
"Third Star" is beautifully acted, but the first 45 minutes or so are slow and a disorganized, if that's the right world -- by disorganized, I mean there's a lot of the guys fooling around and trading barbs, and it becomes a bit much.
Cumberbatch gives a breathtaking, heartfelt, devastating performance, but everyone is excellent. The very handsome J.J. Fields is a standout as well -- his role is a little larger than that of the other two friends, and there's an excellent cameo by Hugh Bonneville.
Stick with it, and you'll be inspired and uplifted. Caution: You'll want a large box of tissues nearby.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well, on the surface this is a no-nonsense film about the last days of
a young man who is terminally ill and his three best friends ("I'm 29,
won't be 30").
Take a step back though and approach the film as a story about growing up and leaving your childhood beyond, and suddenly a lot of things in the film acquire a new meaning (to me at least).
The title of the film is referring to Peter Pan, thus I think I can say with some certainty that I am not stretching the subsequent analysis beyond belief: James symbolizes the childhood/youth of the main characters (it is a fact that he will never grow up just like Peter Pan) and his death symbolizes the loss of said childhood.
The acting is brilliant all around,and should be noted for it's subtlety (Benedict Cumberbatch, I'm looking at you). The script is quite good, the scenery is beautiful and the symbolism is a little heavy handed from time to time. Let me just mention: The angel throwing away the watch in the beginning (nice touch), the lonely seagull leaving the flock then disappearing, the tunnel with the light,the older guy looking for star wars figures (yes- looking for his childhood, never giving up his dreams. And representing what will happen to our main characters if the are unable to let James go)).And finally, of course, the old boatman. Yes- we even get the boatman of the dead. I guess one way to see the eye makeup-thing is a reference to Charon's flashing eyes).
In conclusion: I like to be heavily manipulated sometimes, so I like this film. As a modern take on Peter Pan it's actually quite good.
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