Starter For 10
Director: Tom Vaughan
Starring: James McAvoy; Alice Eve; Rebecca Hall; Catherine Tate; James Corden; Dominic Cooper; Benedict Cumberbatch.
Plot: Set in 1985, working-class student Brian Jackson (McAvoy) navigates his first year at Bristol University.
Coming from Tom Vaughan, the man who has brought us What Happens In Vegas and So Undercover since the release of this picture,Starter For 10 was expectedly full of the old cliche’s of romance and a few too many famedromcom methods of developing audience opinion. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, though. In fact, Starter For 10 had enough charm and focus to truly deliver as an independent movie of the genre, not least because of how its premise was built around the central character’s determination to make it on University Challenge – a British quiz show.
Starter For 10 will perhaps be most noted for being one of James McAvoy’s breakthrough features. It’s not that he’s particularly good, he’s just young and angelic, innocent almost, and that’s different from many of the darker characters we’ve seen him play in recent years as his Hollywood career has taken off. He leads the line well enough to truly bring investment in his storyarc though, and he’s supported by the likes of Dominic Cooper, James Corden, Catherine Tate and even Benedict Cumberbatch, who all offer different pieces to the puzzle that makes this film.
For my money it was Benedict Cumberbatch whowas the standout of the bunch. He played a proud middle class student who was captain of the University Challenge quiz team and ultimately much more of a loser than he thought he was. It’s credit to Cumberbatch’s talents that such apersistently insulting character who looked down his nose at everyone could also, somehow, be innocent.. Even likable… Almost.
One of the best features of this movie was the multi-dimensional characters that were presented, with Cumberbatch’s character – Patrick – being one of them. For example, Brian’s (McAvoy’s) mother gets into a relationship with a man that is not Brian’s father and we aren’t painted the image of the typical family ruining figure.
Another quality this picture had was its presentation of the time it was set. The fact it was set in 1985 was something that the filmmakers ensured we knew about courtesy of visual remarks on the size and quality of old televisions, university protests or choices of music, but it was by no means a key component of the picture.
With some good laughs, a couple of seemingly heartfelt moments, and enough of a change to the ordinary ‘love interest rom–com‘ to make this picture different, Starter For 10 is a decent piece that you may want to watch if you’re wanting to relax and drift away for 90 minutes.