Login

Purely Belter Review

Image for Purely Belter

Two ardent young Newcastle United supporters set about scamming their way towards the ú1,000 they need to buy themselves a pair of season tickets to their beloved club - all the while learning plenty about the real world with all its joys and sorrows.

★★★★★

Super. Smashing. Lovely. Great. That's what the title means. A whole Jim Bowen monologue condensed into just two words, a descriptive phrase reserved for experiences worthy of only the highest praise. So, much to live up to. And award-winning director Herman has a fair crack at meeting those expectations.

The film, however, is very much a game of two halves, with the first 45 minutes - unfolding after an inspired credit sequence - an endearing examination of the aspirations of youth, along the lines of a toned-down 'Stand By Me (1986)' re-located to Newcastle. And, at this level, young unknowns Beattie and McLane excel, as the amiable pair striving towards a rare glimpse of light amidst their gloomy existence. Where they - and consequently the film - fall down is when the path of the storyline begins to demand greater emotional weight.

A second half, kicked off with the cheeky chappies pinching Alan Shearer's (he cameos with as little charisma as he's shown on the pitch so far this season) car and joy-riding into the woods precedes an awkward scene of adolescent philosophising in which Herman tries to add a sense of social profundity that never rings true. For, try as they might, Beattie and McClane just don't have the presence of a young River Phoenix and Wil Wheaton.

It's an effect exacerbated by a similarly lightweight finale (Herman abandoned the ending of the original novel, The Season Ticket, to ensure a more upbeat feel), that's as legally unlikely as it is morally dubious - Gerry's mother may have cancer and his sister be a drug addict, but he still gets to watch his beloved Newcastle kick a ball about, so who cares?

But despite this ultimate inability to sufficiently convey the passion the pair - who, incidentally, admitted at a recent press conference that they actually come from rival Sunderland with its ôstadium of shiteö - have for their beloved team, some nice dialogue, colourful support players (look out for Kevin Whately and the always solid Tim Healy) render it a perfectly entertaining, if fairly forgettable, diversion.

Watchable, easy-going and at times genuinely moving stuff. But - and as unfair as it may be - inevitable comparison to Stephen Daldry's majestic 'Billy Elliot' pales it into a distinct second place.