In Celebration

Starring: Alan Bates, James Bolam, Bill Owen and Brian Cox
InD DVD/Fremantle Home Entertainment
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 18 October 2004

Three brothers return to the Northern mining town they grew up in for their parents' 40th wedding anniversary. Some long-buried and painful truths bubble to the surface of this family reunion as the three grown sons argue over their individual problems while mum bustles about cluelessly and dad waits uneasily for whichever crisis might erupt first...

Eeeeeee! It's grim up N'orth. Yes, yet another movie that illustrates why you're better off not living north of Watford. Wait! Before you rush off to find a pen in order to send in a Points of View style letter of complaint, let me point out that I am from "Up North" - Rotherham to be exact.

There is nothing more painful to watch than these drab, dull and very depressing unrealistic movies depicting "simple" folk from "simple" backgrounds. Unfortunately In Celebration has all of the above in bucket loads. They do nothing for the reputation of Northerners - just making them out to be a load of whingers who like nothing more than a good moan and constantly spoiling for a fight. Having said that, you can't fault the cast, all of whom turn in fantastic performances.

The director does attempt to keep the action (or lack of) interesting with settings and angles that are designed to help you keep your eyes open for the duration. There is a good story here, just that it's like pulling teeth out of a dead horse to get to it.

Extras include interesting interviews with Alan Bates, David Storey and Otto Plaschkes and the usual batch of extras that are on the other The American Film Theatre Collection DVDs (trailer gallery, AFT cinebill, stills gallery and an article on David Storey and In Celebration). I really had to hold my tongue when Alan Bates got on his soapbox, saying that all plays should be filmed... Really? And what on earth justifies that? Then he went on to moan about how we should forget about normal films... Okay... interesting concept. Plays are designed to be played out in theatres and work very well in that format, but transferred to celluloid, more often than not they turn into yawnable affairs. For every Abigail's Party or Death of a Salesman there are countless failures.

In conclusion, this movie is grim and dull, and certainly nothing to celebrate.

Nick Smithson

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