Set in rural England in 1982, Son Of Rambow is both ludicrous and tender. Will is culturally starved because his widowed mother is a part of a religious sect called the Plymouth Brethren. His only escape from his sheltered existence is through his imaginative doodling. Lee is a rebellious troublemaker with a camcorder who is being raised by his rakish teen brother. When Lee shows the naïve Will a bootleg copy of First Blood, he develops an obsession that inspires the new friends to recreate the film with themselves in starring roles.
A reflection of the lives of young Jennings and Goldsmith perhaps? "It is based on real stuff but that was the end of how autobiographical it was. We wanted to capture the feeling of what it was like to be at that age and use our personal experiences as a kind of starting point, but not be slavish to them," says Jennings. For instance, Jennings' own childhood was "in a very happy, regular household" so he decided to base the Will character on his childhood neighbors, who were in fact Plymouth Brethren. "By moving the story next door it had a lot more movie dynamics but also captured what it felt like to see Rambo in First Blood for the first time. It was a complete brain opener!"
The boys' creation of their explosive film within a film is challenged by the stodgy Brethren while the main sub-plot revolves around the arrival at school of a busload of exotic French exchange students. Chief amongst these is Didier, a new wave teen lothario who quickly assumes alpha male status in school and eventually attempts to cast himself as the star of Son Of Rambow, putting Will and Lees' friendship to the test. But more than any musical selection, it's a pissed-off ex-green beret on the run that fires the imaginations of Will and Lee and Jennings and Goldsmith alike.
Son Of Rambow recently screened at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. At Sundance this year Paramount Vantage snagged rights at the largest ever price tag for a film from that festival. The feature is scheduled for release in spring 2008.
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