Son of Rambow is a beautifully acted, beautifully directed gem of a film that explores the burgeoning friendship of a pair of young boys as well as the painfulness of growing up and the, at times, heartbreaking loneliness of adolescence. Written and directed by Gareth Jennings (“Hitchiker’s Guide”, 2005), the movie stars Bill Milner and Will Poulter as the two boys whose friendship the movie is based around. Will Poulter in particular blew me away in his portrayal of “Lee Carter”, the “bad” kid who’s always in trouble, who’s a thief and a liar, and who’s more alone in the world than anyone realizes.
The story, based in the 1980s, starts off with an ultra religious family who has lost the patriarch of their family. Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) misses his father desperately, loves to draw and is incredibly shy and quiet. Due to his religious upbringing, Will has never seen television and as such, is sent into the hallway whenever his class watches movies. More than happy to oblige, he sits and draws. One afternoon while he is waiting in the hall, Lee Carter (Will Poulter) appears. He’s been sent out of his class for getting into trouble, which we find out is a common occurrence. Next thing you know, he’s stolen Will’s artwork and engaged him in a scuffle that ends up breaking a fish tank and landing them both in trouble. What follows is the start of a friendship, although an unusual one at first. Will accidentally sees “Rambo” at Lee’s house while in hiding from Lee’s older brother. Will is intrigued and obsessed as it’s his first ever movie. And since Lee is making a film for a young filmmaker’s competition, he and Will decide to team up and film “Son of Rambo”. As the story unfolds, we see their friendship grow, we see Lee’s loneliness and Will’s confusion with his family’s religion. We see them change and we see them fight.
And on a completely random note, the film also features a visiting French New Wave kid who is so cool that everyone falls in love with him and ends up playing a ninja in “Son of Rambo”. And because of him, we also have one of the most fabulous scenes of all time, wherein a bunch of kids have started up a “club” on school premises where they sit around and smell lip balms and comment on how they really really smell like cupcakes. How freaking awesome is that? So so quintessentially 80s.