Film Scouts Reviews

"Brassed Off"

by Liza Bear

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The Festival got off to a cheery start tonight with the premiere of ,"Brassed Off", a British film from Yorkshire by Mark Herman, which the Clintons should definitely screen in the East Wing of the White House for Jesse Helms and all other detractors of the National Endowment and government funding for the Arts. Film's title means "pissed off" or "ticked off" in the vernacular, and it's about what happens to the Grimley Colliery brass band when the Grimley pit, from which all the miners/musicians derive their livelihood, is threatened with closure. Story is set in the mid-80s when the Thatcher regime, as you'll recall, paralleled the Gipper's for maxing out the agonies of working stiffs. "Downsizing" was Reagan's legacy to the US for the 90s as "redundancy" was Thatcher's.

By focussing the emphasis on the survival of the band rather than the closure of the mine, largely through the admonishing of its leader Danny (Pete Postlethwaite, an Oscar nominee) director Herman delivers a buoyant story in which the abundant musical sequences of the band in rehearsal and performance are an integral part of the action, deftly lifting the film out of social realist doldrums.

Film opens with the arrival of flugel horn player Gloria Mullins (Tara Fitzgerald) setting precedent as she seeks to join the all-male band. Play-on-words such as "glorious tits" are soon abandoned when the boys in the band hear her play the Rodriguez horn concerto and she is seen as a musical asset that might help band win a 14-village contest and actually perform at the Royal Albert Hall.

Among film's less developed subplots is Gloria's amorous interest Andy,
handsomely played by "Trainspotting's" Ewan McGregor. While characterization, especially in the supporting roles, will seem a little thin and dialogue too "on the nose" for some tastes, lack of subtext should not prevent widespread enjoyment of this movie's many charms.

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