Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Goob

Isn’t British cinema wonderful? We’ve never been afraid to make raw and uncomfortable films about the harsher side of youth, love, work, education – whatever. Where the balance of Hollywood’s output tips in the favour of mainstream studio blockbuster shite, Britain’s output these days tends to be more towards the independent. We don’t hide who we are, we put it right there on the screen. Here is another example of how powerful we can be.

Guy Myhill makes his feature-length debut with The Goob, out now on DVD & Blu-Ray. Goob Taylor (Liam Walpole) has spent each of his 16 summers helping his mum run a cafe and harvest the surrounding pumpkin fields, in rural Norfolk. When his mum shacks up with abusive ladies' man Gene Womack, Goob becomes an unwelcome side thought. However Goob's world turns when exotic pumpkin picker Eva arrives to work. Fuelled by her flirtatious comments, Goob dreams of better things. The Goob is a hard film to review. It’s a very short film, clocking in just shy of 80 minutes. And there’s not a huge amount to discuss, especially where the plot is concerned. The Goob is an extremely simple coming-of-age narrative which seemingly lacks any aim or real story, but that’s life. These sad, isolated souls in the story drift through their lives with no real idea where they’re headed and the narrative structure reflects that perfectly. 

The main highlight of The Goob is the exhilarating performance of newcomer Liam Walpole as the strangely named Goob. Described by director Guy Myhill as a “cross between Bowie and Spock” with an “otherworldly quality”, he’s no stranger to hardships himself. The pain he’s experienced in his real life is right there in the eyes of Goob, making for one of the most personal, poignant and powerful performances from a debut performance in a long time. But with a reported £450,000 budget, the cast isn’t entirely made up of unknowns. Along with a supporting cast of fantastic performances including Hannah Spearritt and Marama Corlett; one of Britain’s finest character actors, Sean Harris, delivers a superb performance as the intimidating Gene Womack, the sort of bloke most of us would cross the street to avoid – and apparently stayed in character for the entire shoot. I bet he was a bag of laughs to be around…

The raw and real portrayal of the nasty side of Britain is something that we see a lot of these days in cinema – Tyrannosaur and Fish Tank come to mind, in particular. The Goob is another example of this, holding a mirror up to certain places and types of people and showing them how they live. There’s no Hollywood glamour here. No beautiful people, nor expensive locations. But therein lies The Goob’s power. And Simon Tindall’s cinematography paints a bleak and depressing picture of rural isolation in the Norfolk fens, creating a powerfully uncomfortable atmosphere that is hard to look away from. This is slow, understated and quiet indie cinema. It’s as far away from mainstream as British cinema tends to get, and it’s no wonder it didn’t get a huge theatrical release. But for those who can endure the dark and uncomfortable 80 minutes will be rewarded.

The Goob is one of the strongest films out of Britain in a while, but one that has sadly not found much of an audience. Perhaps in time, it will have a cult following. But due to such a small and quiet release, many people – including yours truly – hadn’t even heard of it until the home release. Having travelled around independent film festivals and nominated for several awards, it has no reached its potential second life as a DVD/Blu-Ray. Give it a chance, and tell your friends. Let’s help get The Goob the audience it deserves.

The Goob is an incredibly powerful little film with breath-taking performances and a strongly atmospheric setting. 5/5.


Sam Love

The Goob at CeX

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