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Hal MacDermot [Celluloid 04.02.08] movie review comedy drama

Year: 2008
Release date: Unknown
Director: Oliver Irving
Writer: Oliver Irving
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: cyberhal
Rating: 6.9 out of 10

Oliver Irving's wry British comedy explores the quarter-life crisis of Art (Robert Patterson) a frustrated musician who's completely depressed about his life, and hires a Self-Help specialist, to solve his problems. Produced for around a million quid, "How to Be" is a funny/poignant picture of how truly rubbish it can sometimes be to grow up in middle-class England. The movie won a well-deserved Honorable Mention from the Jury at Slamdance 2008.

The story kicks off with a flashback sequence where we see Art's Dad forcing his son to throw all his "macho" toys into a fire in the garden. No wonder the kid's traumatized. In the next scene we're back in the present, and twenty-something Art is strumming on an acoustic guitar and singing "Choking on the Dust" to a bored pub audience. Three minutes in and I'm sold.

Things don't get better for Art. His girlfriend Jessica (Alisa Arnah) dumps him and he's forced to move back in with his unwelcoming parents. Rebecca Pidgeon (an actress who's popular with Mamet) and Michael Irving give great performances as Art's icy folks. It seems all he can do is disappoint them, and everyone else. Including the home for the mentally retarded where he attempts to hold down a job. The scariest character is the Dad - Father to Son: "Your existence is an oxymoron." Dude. One day, Art reads a Self Help book by a Dr. Ellington (Powell Jones) and is inspired. In a brilliant twist, Art spends his inheritance money to bring the dapper old gent over from Canada and be his personal counselor.

Despite his parents' hostility, Art and the good Dr. get busy and apply the lessons of the Self Help book to improve family life. With mixed results. These are some of the funniest moments, with Powell as the smiling and super calm guru, ever present. In the morning, at the breakfast table and at night, he sleeps in Art's bedroom. He shows up when Art talks to his ex-girlfriend (who is peeing in the kiddy loo in the kindergarten she works at). He even shows up to comment in the funny-painful moment when Art literally climbs into bed with his parents to get closer to them.

Art also hangs out with his friends, one a drug friendly computer geek, the other a cool playa. They form a band. I thought the scenes with his mates were funny, but not as strong. The guys don't entirely gel. Ronny's agoraphobia seems to be cured the minute his friends drag him out the house and down the pub. Also, if music is the passion in Art's soul, I found him a bit passive in his musical decisions. It's really his mate Ronny who takes the active role in forcing him to play more.

Music is important to this story so luckily, the sound track is strong. The music for Art and his band varies from folkish to indie/electronic, and it was composed specifically for the movie by Joe Hastings and Johnny White. The more confident Art becomes, the more powerful his music, which is perfect. Elsewhere we're treated to anything from Captain Beefheart to Beethoven.

The shooting style was intimate, which works for a story focused on depression and emotions. I liked the absence of strong colors as it reflects Art's depressed state. But the cinematography was not as strong as the story. A few of the night scenes and interiors felt badly underlit. Also, when you only have a limited budget, it helps to get more creative with the shots.

Robert Patterson's performance is strong, and yes it's true, he did play Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005). His next flick, currently in production, is called "Twilight" and involves Vampires. Definitely a bloke to keep your eye on. "How to Be" is not currently available on DVD, but I hear they're working hard on it.

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projectcyclops (14 years ago) Reply

Good review, will look for this in the UK.


mikki (14 years ago) Reply

well it seems pretty interesting from what you've written. will definitely look it up...


Sannie (14 years ago) Reply

Interesting review~~ I just seen the preview of it, it looks funny.
What??? Isn't this coming out in the cinemas?? Instead straight on to a DVD?!?


saray (14 years ago) Reply

pretty good!
hope the movie comes out soon it looks really interesting and i really would like to see Robert Pattinson in it hes so hansome and a good actor!


Emily (14 years ago) Reply

awesome review! and the preview looks good x)
hopefully the movie comes out! :D


Anonymous (14 years ago) Reply

LOV ROB!!!!!!!!! :)


Fee (14 years ago) Reply

You're wrong btw, twilight involves smexy hot vampires with NO FANGS THX.
&r.spunk is dazzle king in everything he does.
kthxbye :)


natalija (14 years ago) Reply

I absolutely love the idea of this movie. I'll be honest, the reason I was interested was because of Robert but when I saw the trailer, I just thought that this is the best [and most original]movie I've heard of in a long time! Can't wait..and it better come to the States! (:


Leslie (14 years ago) Reply

He looks kinda ugly. Not to be mean or anything.


debbie-dub (14 years ago) Reply

This movie sounds so poignant and interesting. Can't wait for its release! Thanks for the review!


Anonymous (14 years ago) Reply

To the person who wrote this, it's actually "Pattinson", not "Patterson".


Claudia (13 years ago) Reply

I hope that they work really really hard on the DVD realise!!! I can´t imagine that the movie will be shown in the DVD is my only hope!
Thank you very much for this very interesting sounds good so the plot.


Priscilla (13 years ago) Reply

I want to watch this film so bad!


Dawn (13 years ago) Reply

I can't believe you couldn't even get his name right. Robert deserves better than that.


Anonymous (13 years ago) Reply

I don't care if Twilight never releases. This is the movie I want to see. Is it ever going to be something more than just film festival hype?

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