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From September 2001
Film Review

A Knight's Taleother August releases

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LUCKY BREAK
4 Stars- Recommended

Lennie James and Timothy Spall doing porridge in Lucky Break
Jailhouse Rock

LUCKY BREAK site (Film Four)

STARS: James Nesbitt, Olivia Williams, Christopher Plummer, Timothy Spall, Lennie
James
DIRECTOR: Peter Cattaneo
SCREENPLAY: Ronan Bennett
CERTIFICATE: TBC • DISTRIBUTOR and IMAGE Copyright: Film Four
RUNNING TIME: TBC
OPENING DATE (UK): August 24

The weight of expectation on Peter Cattaneo, after the Academy Award-nominated feel-good strippergram that was The Full Monty, must have been immense. That he has come up with jailbreak comedy Lucky Break – ostensibly a working class bunch of (in)mates who sing and dance rather than shed clothing – may seem to some like treading on safe ground. In fact, while the film does bear some superficial similarities to The Full Monty, it remains a well-executed crowd-pleaser which goes some way in echoing the Ealing Comedies of old.

Leader of the gang is Irish bank robber Jimmy (Cold Feet’s Nesbitt), a small-timer who managed to abandon his mate Rudy (James) during the ill-fated heist that got them sent down. Befriending the aristocratic Roger (Nighy), a man in for some ‘creative accountancy’, as well as his Scouse arsonist cellmate Darren (Raymond Waring), Jimmy sets about looking for a get-out-of-jail-free card.

He finds it by convincing the Governor (Plummer) to allow the inmates to stage the latter’s self-penned effort, ‘Nelson: The Musical’, to act, of course, as a smokescreen for their escape. Not exactly a dead ringer for Cameron Mackintosh, Jimmy raises the suspicions of the prison’s Chief of Security – and obligatory bully – Mr Perry (Ron Cook) and also finds he must placate one Annabel Sweep (Williams), who heads up the Prisoner Support Unit.

With excellent work from the entire cast, particularly Timothy Spall, as Jimmy’s picked-upon cellmate, Cattaneo fully exploits his players as he did in The Full Monty. Mining humour from their characterizations (Waring’s pyromaniac is one of the year’s freakiest creations) as well as the situations in hand, Cattaneo lucks out here. Reminiscent of Peter Seller’s 1960 film Two Way Stretch in tone as much as plot, Lucky Break lives up to its name. Rarely faltering, only the burgeoning romance that springs up between Jimmy and Annabel in the film’s later stages proves unconvincing, needlessly jeopardizing the film’s outcome. That it doesn’t is undoubtedly due to the Cattaneo feel-good factor – raised very high here indeed.

James Mottram

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Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction.

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