The Be All And End All Review

The Be All And End All film still

Score

The central duo is memorable, but the film dives the wrong way.

Virgins. We’ve all been one. Although, judging from the cinema, you’d think this horrific affliction only affected teenage American boys in coming-of-age comedies. Even though they’re in Merseyside, the two protagonists of The Be All and End All are in the same boat.

Robbie (Josh Bolt) and Ziggy (Eugene Byrne) spend their caravan holiday larking around on the beach, guzzling vodka behind the local pub, and, in Rob’s case, trying to cop off with university-age barmaid Sophie (Bryony Seth). Imagine his disappointment when a 1am liaison back at her digs is scuppered by the discovery that, no, he can’t hold his liquor after all.

His misfortune doesn’t stop there, as Robbie is diagnosed with a fatal heart condition and is placed, much to his dismay, in the hospital’s children’s ward. Things are bad – almost as bad as when Liverpool were beaten by Man United. How will he lose the big V now, when he’s surrounded by toddlers and coddled daily by his parents?

Thankfully, Ziggy is on point. He devises various schemes to help his chum pop his cherry, starting by propositioning every girl at school, and ending – with heist movie bravado – with a wheelchair-aided jail break to a nearby massage parlour. Bolt and Byrne exhibit an endearing, untrained streak of naturalism, buoying the film with their deliciously Scouse tones.

And the script, from Steve Lewis and Tony Owen, flashes with cheeky humour that, for a time, undercuts the dour nature of the narrative and pokes fun at the exaggerated earnestness with which we approach death.

But once the drama hits, it does so bluntly. Bruce Webb proves a subtle director when letting the boys’ chemistry develop over uncomplicated, static shots, but an overbearing acoustic soundtrack pushes the proceedings towards tear-jerking manipulation.

And an awkward subplot, featuring Ziggy’s search for his estranged father, desperately attempts to nail down the over-arching themes of love and companionship. It is all far too heavy-handed; all concerned should have had more faith in the leading pair.

Anticipation

A quirky, distinctive genre mash-up, beloved by second-tier festivals.

3

Enjoyment

A conflicted, uneven experience: sugary kitchen-sink realism with wank jokes.

3

In Retrospect

The central duo is memorable, but the film dives the wrong way.

3
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