Sunday, February 20, 2011

Movie review: Starter for 10

Starter for 10Last night we watched this British independent film, "Starter for 10." It's about a young man, Brian, who leaves his working-class roots behind him in Essex to start university at Bristol. He's always been fascinated by the quiz show "University Challenge" and general knowledge (trivia). He tries out for a place on the university team and scores a spot (after one of the main team members gets hit by a bus).

In Brian's freshman year, he struggles in maintaining his friendships with his childhood friends (who seem to have not moved beyond their childhood) and falls for his buxom blonde teammate, Alice, who is nice enough but shallow (even though she's on the quiz team). Also featuring in his life is Rebecca, the much more grounded and intelligent student activist. It's a typical romantic comedy in the sense that you know who he will be with at the end, once he wises up.

In other ways, the film is unpredictable (no spoilers though). We didn't expect the University Challenge show to end the way it did. Brian makes a series of stupid mistakes and grows up a lot during his first year at university.

James McAvoy ("The Last King of Scotland" and "Atonement") was excellent as Brian--he is the male Meryl Streep, given how he disguises his very broad Scottish accent.

Based on a novel, the film brings the mid-1980s to life in its music, clothing style, and college culture. As both of us were in university during that time period (me at PLU and Mike pursuing his M.Phil at Oxford), we enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

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