Ricky Gervais' and Stephen Merchant's feature-film directorial debut, Cemetery Junction centres on three men working at an insurance firm in 1970's England.
In 1970s England, three blue-collar friends spend their days joking, drinking, fighting and chasing girls. Freddie (Christian Cooke) wants to leave their working-class world but cool, charismatic Bruce (Tom Hughes) and lovable loser Snork (Jack Doolan) are happy with life the way it is. When Freddie gets a new job as a door-to-door salesman and bumps into his old school sweetheart Julie (Felicity Jones), the gang are forced to make choices that will change their lives for ever.
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Cemetery Junction is a coming-of-age drama set in 1970s suburban England. It follows the story of three young working-class friends with different dreams and ambitions each trying, in his own way, to grow up in the aftermath of the swinging sixties. As they think about all the parties that they missed out on as the age of free-love circumnavigated Reading, they decide that they will take control of their lives and make their own dreams come true. Bruce (Tom Hughes) is the strikingly, but slightly unconventionally, handsome, cocksure, ladies man that likes to flash his fists a little too often. Twisted by the rage that he tries, but often fails to keep locked up inside, at the loss of his mother when he was a kid, he's always getting himself into trouble. His mother went off with another man. His Dad wasn't enough of a man to do anything about it. Bruce reckons that he would have smashed the other guys face in, and at least then his girl would have been seeing her new fella in the graveyard. But Bruce's Dad is just a waste of space. He sits home all day drinking beer. Bruce works a dead-end factory job that keeps him in booze money, but it also keeps him trapped in Cemetery Junction - a backwater, looser town in the Reading area. He's been threatening to leave since he was fifteen but he's still here. His best mate Freddie (Christian Cooke) is also conflicted. He wants the job at the insurance firm that eventually would mean that he could move away from Cemetery Junction and buy a big house and a fancy car. He wants to be more than his work-a-day father (Ricky Gervais), but he also has a conscience and the hard-sell insurance game doesn't really sit right with him. Then he falls for his long-lost ex-flame of his early teens, the pretty, intelligent and inspirational Julie (Felicity Jones) and everything changes. Along for the ride is the lovable Snork (Jack Doolan). Cemetery Junction sees Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant re-teaming as co-writers and co-directors. This sort of coupling is rarely seen in the movie business and when it is, it often has disastrous results. Yet Gervais and Merchant excel together - Gervais the one keen to get to the exciting acting parts, the dramatic scenes and all the fun stuff, Merchant careful to make sure all the less exciting, but nonetheless vital, scenes are also shot to the highest levels. Gervais and Merchant are masters of telling stories that are delightfully character-driven. They are stories that are firmly rooted in the truths of everyday lives. Cemetery Junction is a film imbued with laughter, tears and plenty of genuinely poignant moments all wrapped up in a drama that isn't afraid to tackle the tough themes of small town ambition and strained family relationships, all played out by a cast of up-and-coming youngsters that are able to perform with subtlety and restraint when required, as well as broader comedic strokes when appropriate. The stunning array of big name actors that have joined up to play supporting roles ensure that the film is full rounded. Ralph Fiennes appears as Mr Kendrick, Freddie's boss at the insurance firm. Emily Watson plays his long-suffering wife and Matthew Goode plays Mike Ramsay, Freddie's mentor and love-rival for Julie's affections. Cemetery Junction is an extremely assured debut for Gervais and Merchant as directors. They are clearly natural filmmakers that have simply taken a little while in getting to where they wanted to be in life. The Office, Extras and other projects such as The Invention of Lying have all been steps along the way for Gervais and Merchant and now they are at the point where they are really able to fully showcase their seemingly innate ability and indeed flair for writing, direction and most importantly pacing and character development on the big screen. Cemetery Junction is a British made film that can more than hold its own with Hollywood films.
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