Cemetery Junction - Blu-ray Review

'full of well-rounded characters with strong motivations, conflictions and obstacles'

After apparently taking a back-seat in the direction of The Invention Of Lying (a co-production with Matthew Robinson), Cemetery Junction sees Ricky Gervias re-team with regular writing partner Stephen Merchant for the pair's first feature film jaunt in the directing chair. Taking little at the UK box office and going straight to DVD in the US, the signs didn't look good for this being a success, Gervais having been largely panned for his performance and script on the aforementioned 2009 comedy.

Within the opening few scenes it's fairly obvious why America didn't warm to this; there's some very rude, very English, swearing, some rather frank seventies racism and a pretty honest treatment of what it was like in small-town England in that decade: far from the glamour that small-town America seems to bring with it whenever it finds its way to our screens.

For English audiences though, it's hard to see how this went by without making much more than a whisper. The performances, from an almost entirely fresh-faced cast, are fairly close to note perfect, with Tom Hughes and Felicity Jones being the standouts. Gervais' humour too, for fans of his shtick, is present and correct although mostly toned down enough to let the straight drama of the story rightly come to the fore, in a script that the duo behind The Office and Extras have put together almost flawlessly.

The ideas of escaping your roots and questioning what those roots even are, are portrayed with great variety and a joie de vivre that's often lacking from the UK's more dour dramatic productions. Julie (Jones) wants to travel the world, Freddie (Christian Cooke) wants to have a successful job and family, Bruce (Hughes) isn't sure what he wants and Snork (Jack Doolan) just wants to find a girl. They're all real, well-rounded characters with strong motivations, conflictions and obstacles and I for one believed every one of them.

Where the film goes wrong is perhaps when Gervais and Merchant go too far off into their familiar comedy world. An extended scene at a gala ball feels forced and has the normal plethora of cringe-worthy moments which don't seem to suit the tone of the rest of film. Likewise, Freddie's family (Dad played by Gervais) are Royale Family-esque comic relief but don't necessarily suit the erstwhile tone that's created elsewhere.

These are very minor gripes though in a film which showcases some outstanding young talent, in a compelling screenplay with a proper dramatic heart. Films like this don't come along all that often.

Cemetery Junction is out in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 30th August, it is out in the US now.

Look further...

'this is territory seen before - but this time it is in the seventies' - Screen Insight


  1. Saw it yesterday actually thought it was great. Think your review is spot on, solid characters and story slighty spoilt by Gervais' own performance.

  2. Cheers Ciaran, glad you enjoyed it too! One of those films I'm already looking forward to seeing again.