ricky gervais interview & review of Cemetery Junction
PUBLISHED: 07:33 16 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:09 20 February 2013
Ricky Gervais goes back to his Reading roots - but can you recognise them?
This directorial debut is a bit like Marmite. If youre under 30 its probably got its appeal , (Bowie, Elton John, Slade are, after all, cool again) but if youre over 50, like me, and remember 1973 quite clearly, its really so what? I was hoping that Cemetery Junction would contain the pathos of The Office and the ribaldry of Extras, but I was sorely disappointed. Gervaiss crack at a homegrown Brit coming-of-age comedy and I used the last word advisedly is really so bland and predictable, it is, quite frankly, a bore.
Anyone familiar with the eponymous Cemetery Junction in Reading will know its a down-at-heel area and always has been. (I worked in a news agency above Mr. Cods fish and chip shop in the 80s, so I should know.) Yet in the film its a chocolate box village - the sort that people with aspirations actually try to buy into - not escape from! You wont find any bit of Reading youll recognise either. The lovely Woodstock, just outside Oxford, was the location for the village scenes. How far removed from the real Reading can you get?
The three main characters are all friends looking for a way out: Jack Dolan is Snork, the tubby nerd, Tom Hughes, who plays angsty Bruce, from a broken home who works in a factory and likes a punch-up, and Christian Cooke who plays Freddie, the ambitious lad with dreams of a big house and a car.
There is, of course, a love interest. Childhood sweetheart Julie (Felicity Jones) is the bosss daughter, whos engaged to the thoroughly unpleasant go-getter Matthew Goode. She wants to be a photographer but this in 1973 and shes being groomed to be a good wife. Oh, and, theres quite a bit of racism thrown in for good measure, to accompany the feminist angle.
Freddie eventually decides he doesnt want to spend the rest of his life working for an insurance company (Gervais had the Pru in mind obviously) and decides to see the world, leaving home the next day. (Never mind that your average working Joe didnt have a passport in 1973). Surprise, surprise, Julie comes with him.
I missed the subtlety and realism of The Office. There was very little grit or drama or suspense and I cringed at the crudeness of the language. Dont get me wrong, I confess to finding The Inbetweeners hilarious, so Im not a prude, but in this instance it really was a poor substitute for real humour and pathos.
Get back to your real roots Ricky not some sentimentalised twee village that never really existed - and write some edgy material that leaves us not knowing whether to laugh or cry. You don't have to rely on smut to get a laugh - you're better than that.