CEMETERY JUNCTION (15) DIRECTED BY: RICKY GERVAIS, STEPHEN MERCHANT * * * STARRING: CHRISTIAN COOKE, TOM HUGHES, JACK DOOLAN, FELICITY JONES, RALPH FIENNES, EMILY WATSON
AFTER a few cinematic missteps, Ricky Gervais is on surer footing for his second co-directing gig. Teaming up this time with Stephen Merchant, his co-creator of The Office and Extras, they've written and directed a heartfelt coming-of-age film.
The result is a romanticised but still truthful look at how difficult it is to cut the ties to the hometown of your childhood and actually strike out on your own, especially when there's no great impetus beyond a vague sense of dissatisfaction and a nagging feeling there might be more to life. Set in the titular Reading suburb in 1973, those thoughts are eating away at twentysomethings Freddie (Christian Cooke), Bruce (Tom Hughes) and, to a lesser extent, Snork (Jack Doolan) – working-class friends whose dreams haven't yet been crushed, but who are certainly on course for disappointment in life. Gervais and Merchant don't mess around too much with the formula usually deployed in this type of film, but their strengths lie in layering on lovely character details and poignant truisms so the clichs don't feel like clichs.