For a film released in 2007, it has taken me a while to find the time to watch this film. As a result, I am simultaneously glad to have finally seen it and kicking myself for not having done so sooner.
Set in the 1980s, Son of Rambow is a joyfully nostalgic exploration of friendship, family and the positive influence that even Sylvester Stallone’s films can exert.
The film centres on two boys: Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) and Lee Carter (Will Poulter). Will, who lost his father to an accident, is being brought up as a member of the Plymouth Bretheren, a cult that keeps its members away from films, music, books and pretty much everything else. Lee’s parents are also out of the picture — living elsewhere — and he is being cared for — in the loosest sense of the word — by his elder brother. Largely left to his own devices, Lee is well on the way to delinquency.
When the two boys encounter each other, Lee ropes Will into helping him make a film. He has a camera and a lot of ambition but things really take off when Will sees a VHS of Rambo. His hitherto repressed creativity is unleashed and the two boys embark on making a film: Son of Rambow.
The relationship between the two boys, initially, is very one-sided with Lee taking advantage of Will’s naivety. This, however, develops into a genuine friendship between the boys which is all the more striking as the boys appear unaware of just how close they are becoming, or why. Each boy is an outcast and needing an outlet and it is this shared isolation and need that brings them together in a manner that is touching and genuinely believable.
Things go awry when the outrageously cool Didier, played by Jules Sitruk, and his hangers-on find out about the film and want to be involved.
To call Didier outrageously cool is, I admit, a tad misleading. The other phrase that came to mind — parody of cool — is equally misleading because Didier is neither cool nor a parody. He is, instead, a twelve-year-old’s idea of what a cool teenager would look like (given the 1980s setting of the film). As such, he serves to underline the fact that this film is made wholly and unironically from the point of view of a twelve year old.
Son of Rambow is a genuinely feel-good film about boys, brotherhood and friendship and about the endless opportunity for adventure and the highs and lows that come from being twelve.
I really enjoyed this film and suspect that I will enjoy it even more when I watch it again.