Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Movie Review: A Room for Romeo Brass 3 Stars

What a nice little movie. They really should make more movies like this. There are no hooks to A Room for Romeo Brass. It isn’t going to change the way films are made. But again, what a nice little movie. A Room for Romeo Brass is a personal film, but a really quiet one. Although it is a melodrama, there are no disease-of-the-week histrionics or First Amendment Oscar speeches, just a charming story, told charmingly.

Romeo Brass (Andrew Shim) and Knocks (Ben Marshall) are best friends who live right next door to each other in a working class neighborhood. Romeo is a pugilistic fat kid, while Knocks has a gimpy walk from a spinal defect. Knocks lives with his doting mother (Julia Ford) and emotionally-distant father (James Higgins) while Romeo lives with his mother (Ladene Hall) and older sister (Vicky McLure) and has much bitterness toward his estranged father (Frank Harper). Their differences click as the just-right combination that makes for thick-and-thin friends when you’re twelve.

However, their friendship is tested when the nerdy, creepy stranger Morell (Paddy Considine) enters their lives. After rescuing Knocks from a thrashing at the hands of older boys, Morell starts to court Romeo’s older sister, although the socially-retarded Morell bollixes the effort and blames Knocks. Morell squeezes Knocks out of Romeo’s life to the point where Romeo refuses to visit Knocks in the hospital during his back-surgery. When Morell spirals dangerously into a psychotic fit of rage, Romeo reaffirms his friendship with Knocks and even reunites with his father.

A Room for Romeo Brass felt kind of like an episode of a television series in its structure and the modest but not insignificant arc of the story. As a matter of fact, A Room for Romeo Brass would make an excellent TV series -- the sort of show with engaging and likeable characters who, nonetheless, are flawed. The type of program with storylines that everyone can relate to. The kind of episodic that gets cancelled after less than half the shows air and yet manages to win the Emmy as a testament to how good the show is.

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