Friday, July 24, 2020

Fisherman's Friends Review: The Unconventional Musical Drama Hits The Right Notes

Release date: July 24, 2020 (On Demand and Digital)
Running time: 102 minutes
Starring: Daniel Mays, Tuppence Middleton, James Purefoy

A fast living, cynical London music executive (Daniel Mays) heads to a remote Cornish village on a stag weekend where he's pranked by his boss (Noel Clarke) into trying to sign a group of shanty singing fishermen (led by James Purefoy).  However, what starts out as a prank turns into a difficult task as Danny (Mays) tries to gain the respect and enthusiasm of the unlikely boy band and their families (including Tuppence Middleton) who value friendship and community over fame and fortune.  As he's drawn deeper into the traditional way of life he's forced to reevaluate his own priorities and ultimately question what success really means.

Although this is based on a true story, it is one that I hadn't heard about.  So I didn't really know what to expect from this film, and as you would expect from an unconventional musical movie, the singing is what catches you at first.  It starts off as silly but quickly grows when you realize there is actually something here.  The group has an authentic, soulful sound that really sets the tone of the whole movie.  It also helps that their characters are genuinely likable.  Whether it's the gruff father protecting his town and family (Purefoy), the strong female character wanting what's best for her daughter (Middleton), or the successful music producer who starts to reevaluate his own priorities (Mays), they all play likable and relatable characters.  And the themes in this film are heartwarming and have plenty of drama.  The desire to get out of the rat race and reprioritize family is something that I'm sure a lot of people can relate to right now, which gives this film a certain amount of heart not seen in most mainstream movies.  And it makes this whole scenario makes for a refreshingly different type of film.

And although there is a lot to love about this film, there are a few sour notes.  For one, despite loving the characters and the story, there are some lines and jokes that fall flat.  Some of this might have been a language or cultural barrier (the characters speak in thick accents and have references to Cornish culture).  But these were minor and didn't happen often.  And because this is a small village and band with 10 members, there are a lot of characters that come in and out of the film.  The movie does its best to minimize this by focusing on the main ones, but the sheer number can still be a little overwhelming. And, the movie is a long one and feels like it.  Just when you think that the movie is about to end, it goes on for another act.  And the conclusion, though satisfying, does feel a little too Hallmark movie for me.  However, don't let these minor criticisms keep you from enjoying this unconventional musical drama.  And the fact that the film is based on a true story helps a lot as you really root for the characters and the band.  

Fisherman's Friends reels you in and hits the right notes, with its great music, relatable and likable characters, and heartwarming story.  

Watch it.
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