Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spud Strikes a Chord and Resonates Deeply

"Spud" is set in South Africa at the cusp of Apartheid's collapse. However, such worldly concerns pale in comparison to the traumas and triumphs of the main character as he endures his first year of boarding school.

Perhaps it's a British colonial thing, but the obligatory gang torments and slow uphill slog toward acceptance are probably all too familiar to Brits, Canadians and Aussies alike. And so are the quandaries the main character has to face: should he try to avoid the school "loser" in a bid to win the approval of his peers, or do what he knows deep down is right?

That main character, brought brilliantly to life by boy wonder Troye Sivan, manages to pull the viewer in with a powerful, unaffected, guileless charm. He's Everyman in miniature, and his pangs and joys resonate deeply. Sivan's immense talent shows a surprising depth and sensitivity for one so young - he completely convinces as John Milton, dubbed "Spud" by his rougher classmates. 

Bouyed by the peerless master of comedy John Cleese, Spud (the movie) soon rises to the level of a classic cinematic masterpiece. The rapport between the crotchety old lit teacher known as "The Guv" and his promising young protege is bang on, eliciting the gamut of reactions from pathos to hilarity. Cleese is at his best when rudely pontificating, and he doesn't disappoint here.

As Spud's doomed pal Gekko, Jamie Royal also provides a superb performance, and Genna Blair is perfect in her role as the nascent sunbeam of Milton's first love. You'll also find yourself and every single one of your old schoolmates among the main characters and supporting cast.

The lush settings are beautifully captured by cinematographer Lance Gewer, Ed Jordan's score is just the right degrees of uplifting and poignant, and Sivan's voice is aptly pure, expressive, and gently powerful.

The movie's based on the best-selling novel of the same name, which I've not yet had the pleasure of reading. Its tone is very much akin to John Irving's best, though, for my money, this is easily the successor to Stephen King's classic "Stand By Me". Yes, it's that good.

Watch it. You love it, and you won't forget it. 10 out of 10, with room to spare.

No comments:

Post a Comment