Starring: Christian Cooke, Felicity Jones, Tom Hughes
Director: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
Running Time: 95 mins
Cemetery Junction is a British film about a young man who gets a job as an insurance salesman, which takes him away from life with his school friends, but towards his former sweetheart.
I love a good coming-of-age film, especially one where the film’s writers and directors have a whole lot of passion and nostalgia for a time period in the recent past. Cemetery Junction has just that, with a vibrant depiction of England in the early 1970s. However, it doesn’t quite hit home when it comes to its story, which lacks the humour and heart of the best films in the genre.
Let’s start with the positives, though, particularly in the film’s depiction of England in the early 1970s. As well as all the usual trappings including excellent costume and production design, the film does a great job at sizing up the mentality of the country at the time.
It’s an interesting time period from a social perspective, and writers Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant showcase how traditional roles for both men and women were still far more deeply ingrained, leading to major problems for both the male and female leads in this film.
I found that part of the story to be by far the most emotionally effective, as we follow a young man (Cooke) who tries to break out of his working class background by joining a league of stuffy businessmen, while his former high school sweetheart (Jones), is stuck under the feet of her father and fiancé, despite her dreams of becoming a photographer.
That part of the film, however, comes a little further towards the end of the story, and Cemetery Junction doesn’t quite have enough in the opening two acts to really grab you either as a comedy or a great coming-of-age drama.
It’s certainly a sweet film, and with some strong performances – most notably from Felicity Jones, Matthew Goode and Ralph Fiennes – it’s a moderately captivating watch, but I never found myself immensely engrossed in the characters or laughing particularly hard, which was a real shame.
So, despite its stronger finish and moments of captivating and insightful emotional depth, Cemetery Junction is a film that just doesn’t have the consistency throughout to prove genuinely enthralling. That’s why I’m giving it a 7.1 overall.