1987 Running time: 113 Certificate: 15 Rating: 4

Synopsis

John Boorman's wartime drama follows the trials and tribulations of a suburban London family during the Blitz. Viewed through the eyes of young Bill (Sebastian Rice-Edwards), it's a splendidly crafted coming-of-age tale that really captures that old British spirit. Sarah Miles does her best to keep it together as the stoical mum, while Ian Bannen is simply marvellous as the crabby, cricket-obsessed grandfather. Rose-tinted maybe, but hugely engaging nevertheless.

Director

  • John Boorman

Cast

  • Sarah Miles

  • Sebastian Rice-Edwards

  • Ian Bannen

  • David Hayman

  • Geraldine Muir

Review

A slight but often flavoursome recollection of a wartime childhood, John Boorman's memoir is not a portrait of the working classes battling through the Blitz, rather a picture of the lower middle classes in their suburban semis.

Sometimes it rings horrendously true, at others it doesn't seem at all the bombsite childhood of contemporary documentaries.

The sight of a 15-year-old dancing round celebrating the house down the road being on fire might be a vignette from Boorman's boyhood, but is still likely to cause a few raised eyebrows.

And young Sebastian Rice Edwards certainly comes across more sins than most wartime kids will remember.

Still, the gangs of boys are well-drawn, as is the grandfather, played with relish by Ian Bannen, who all but steals the film.

Boorman's own dialogue provides some good chuckles, and there's a rollicking portrait of an absolute monster of a teacher from Barbara Pierson.

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