Director: Michel Gondry
Starring: Jack Black and Mos Def
Runtime: 101 mins
Rating: * * *
Anyone setting out to see one of ‘those’ Jack Black films is likely to be disappointed by Be Kind Rewind. Silly voices and gurning, though present, are kept to a minimum. At the same time, those actively avoiding it for fear of another Nacho Libre are missing a heart-warming treat.
Michel Gondry has been dubbed a ‘daring’ director since his critically acclaimed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a tough act to live up to. He has yet to recapture the all round brilliance of that film, but his imagination remains practically unrivalled. Be Kind Rewind brings us more of the fantasy of his The Science of Sleep, but more accessibly. There is sheer brilliance in the camcorder remakes, or ‘swedes’, of well-loved and well-known films. Cardboard cut outs and tin foil suits are a refreshing break from the usual CGI parade.
‘Sweding’ is very Blue Peter, and the awkward characters in hopeless situations are equally charming and close to home. They are silly, but also sweet and sad, and held together by an unexpected dose of community. A pleasant break from indie-film cynicism.
Gondry’s creativity admittedly tends towards the tenuous in terms of plot. I felt unconvinced by some of the plot, and additionally the film has a frustrating habit of not following up sub-plots. I was dying to see certain romantic tensions fully resolved.
Regardless of the silliness, Be Kind Rewind is a sweet, heartfelt and occasionally magical film at risk of being stepped on by the award season giants. Def and Black are amiable buffoons and Melonie Diaz, a lesser-known actress overshadowed by the boys in her role as the put upon Alma, was delightfully fierce and vulnerable. It may not have the epic proportions of There Will Be Blood, or the relentless wit of Juno, but I haven’t come out the cinema so happy in a long time.