London Film Festival: Burn Burn Burn, review

To create a comedy about death is a difficult thing to do. You always need the right amount of comedy mixed with heartfelt moments and occasionally have these themes combined into a single scene. It’s a mammoth task for even the most talented writer and I’m sure the creators of Burn Burn Burn knew what they were up against.

Director Chanya Button and writer Charlie Covell have made a comedy drama about the death of a friend who requested that his two best mates take his ashes on a road trip around Britain, scattering him in key places that meant the most to him. Almost like Thelma and Louise, just without their deaths at the end. The film opens with a joke about the deceased Dan (Jack Farthing), with the end of the scene cutting just after the words “Too soon?” are said by Alex. It’s a perfect way to set up the rest of the film and begs the question how soon after someone has died can you joke about them?

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The two girls, Alex (Chloe Pirrie) and Seph (Laura Carmichael), embark upon a road trip that takes them away from their comforts and comfort zones, all to please one of their best friends and to honour his memory. They both have something major happening in their lives during this time; Alex walked in on her girlfriend cheating and Seph hates her job and her boyfriend. It begins from there, instead of face up to their problems, they avoid them on a well-timed road trip. Dan joins them via Tupperware container and videos he’s created for each stop in their journey. These videos start off as a light-hearted way to keep Dan in touch with his best friends, it’s a very modern and very smart technique. But his messages to them take a turn for the brutally honest, which he points out that they have to listen to, they can’t argue back, he’s dead.

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There are several bit parts, whose screen time is short which you will be thankful for. Not because these are written badly, but they are just wonderfully annoying. Julian Rhind-Tutt’s Adam is a charming, strange hippy who invites the girls to a party and after a night of drinking, they agree to drive him and his equally frustrating friends to Wales. Then there’s Matthew Kelly’s Doug, who, whilst lovely in small doses, you can imagine this Am-Dram actor grating on you a bit. But both bring a charm and quality to this film which matches the comedy duo of Seph and Alex.

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The film explores friendships at the most excruciating time, tests people bonds with one another and pushes the comedy theme to its limit in a film about death. It’s full of witty lines, visual gags and heartfelt moments between the two main girls. They have also used Britain to its best, having some incredible landscape shots thanks to Cinematographer Carlos De Carvalho. Button and Covell’s experience is very limited but you would never know it with this comedy about death. They have created what is a great film about being alive.

Keep. It. Reel.

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