The Goob

 

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A haunting if sometimes problematic work that marks out its creator as a special talent.

 

Goob, The

 

The title refers to the name by which the young man at the centre of the tale is known. This finely photographed film is set in Norfolk and the location in very much part and parcel of the picture. Liam Walpole who plays Goob is a striking newcomer with an intensity all his own and he is one of those actors whom the camera loves. We soon meet Goob’s mother, Janet (Sienna Guillory) and her partner Gene Womack (Sean Harris) and discover that Goob is close to his brother Rod (Joe Copsey) who is older. The mother runs a remote transport café and Gene supervises work in the pumpkin fields. But this is no rural idyll: the presence of young female pickers encourages Gene’s roving eye while his attitude to Goob is so controlling that he even interferes if the boy shows any interest in girls.

The problematic aspect of this film lies in the fact that, being both writer and director, Guy Myhill seems too close to his material in the sense that he is not distanced enough to see where the storytelling is unnecessarily confusing. He fails to establish clearly the identities of some of the characters, and how they are related to each other becomes an issue. The most crucial example concerns Gene: he is certainly Janet’s partner, but is he actually the boy’s father or is he merely choosing to act like one? As the plot develops, other details too lack the clarity that they need, but the main thrust is not in doubt. Goob becomes aware that Gene is cheating on Janet and he persuades himself that if his mother is too weak to act herself then he must rescue her. Furthermore, if he confronts Gene then the youth will, as he sees it, prove that he is now a man,

Any weaknesses can readily be forgiven when by the close of the film one realises that Myhill has created a world that is identifiably his own, even if the tough, rural tale puts one in mind of the French filmmaker Bruno Dumont. The denouement is especially telling with the screenplay quite avoiding melodrama. Goob is not turned into a hero nor given tragic status but far more tellingly is portrayed as a youth trapped in a situation from which his age and immaturity allow for no escape. The final shot perfectly expresses his entrapment.  

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Liam Walpole, Paul Popplewell, Sienna Guillory, Hannah Spearritt, Joe Copsey, Oliver Kennedy, Marama Corlett, Martin Ferguson, Rosa French, Sean Harris.


Dir Guy Myhill, Pro Lee Groombridge and Mike Elliott, Screenplay Guy Myhill, Ph Simon Tindall, Pro Des Ben Myhill, Ed Adam Biskupski, Music Luke Abbott, Costumes Nigel Egerton.


Creative England/BBC Films/BFI/an Emu Films and IFeatures production etc.-Soda Pictures.
85 mins. UK. 2014. Rel: 29 May 2015. Cert. 18
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