Cert 12A 95mins Stars 3
Identity, deception and romance cause uproar in a 1980’s English public school in this deft bitter-sweet coming-of-age romcom.
Jonah Hauer-King’s delightfully dim and handsome head boy is helped to woo Pauline Etienne’s artistic Agnes, by Alex Lawther’s wimpy scholarship boy, who himself is secretly in love with Agnes.
An adaptation of the 19th century French tragedy, Cyrano de Bergerac, the robust simplicity of the plot transfers well to a modern context, such as in Steve Martin’s and Daryl Hannah’s 1987 brilliant comic version, Roxanne.
Lawther’s bespectacled and asthmatic character forgoes the traditional large nose which Martin wore, an example of how this is all the stronger for refusing to be slavish to its source, and the idea of false presentation has huge relevance in our social media landscape.
Though the film has sympathy for the school inmates, it presents the institution as cruel, archaic, ridiculous and stuffed with flag-waving buffoonish bullying philistines, leaving my preconceived opinions unchallenged.