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Movie Review

Brassed Off

Reviewed by: Brian Nigro
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Older Teens and Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
107 min.
R

Starring: Pete Postlethwaite, Ewan McGregor, Tara Fitzgerald, Stephen Tompkinson, Jim Carter / Director: Mark Herman / Released by: Miramax

Here’s an alternative to the dinosaurs, hijacked airplanes, and car crashes of summer: “Brassed Off”, a poignant story of a brass band faced with the closure of a coal mine in working-class England. Jobs and livelihoods in dire straits.

Pete Postlethwaite (“The Lost World”) stars as the band leader faced with motivating and inspiring despaired and depressed coal miners. The arrival of Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald), does little to help—though she does enjoy the attraction of Andy (Ewan McGregor from “Trainspotting”).

As this movie unfolded before me, I was reminded of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the lowly, they shall inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for holiness (Matthew 5: 5-6).” And, is there ever a thirst for holiness! There’s a compelling scene where Danny’s son Phil (Stephen Tompkinson) blasphemes God and curses Margaret Thatcher.

The musical sequences in “Brassed Off” are simply marvelous. Music students who were inspired by “Shine” and “Mr. Holland’s Opus” will be equally inspired by the music here—especially the closing sequence that I won’t spoil.

It’s only fair to warn you, however, that this is a very political movie. It is very in-your-face with its sentiment. If you didn’t follow the recent United Kingdom elections in which the Thatcher era drew to a close, you’ll be as lost as a tourist stranded overseas without a passport.

“Brassed Off” is rated R for mild profanity (including British slang such as “bloody”), brief locker room nudity, and the aforementioned blaspheming of the Lord’s name. I also must note that most of the characters are chain smokers. Also, I would be more enthusiastic about this movie had the excellent music played a larger part. I don’t think director Mark Herman shares the love of music that his characters do, and that costs the movie credibility big time.

Year of Release—1997