Lucky Break

Lucky Break


Reviewed by: Trinity

Imagine you're a British director who's had an astounding success with, of all things, a film about five out-of-work Sheffield men who become strippers. What on earth would you do to follow it up?

Well, Peter Cattaneo has come up with a delightful comedy about a group of hardened prison inmates who decide that their best chance of escaping is by staging a musical.

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Jimmy Hands (James Nesbitt) is doing a long stretch after a bank robbery, with longtime accomplice Rudy (Lenny James), goes wrong.

He immediately gets into trouble with the odious Mr Perry (Ron Cook), Chief of Security, and initally also gets on the wrong side of the beautiful Prison Support Officer, Annabel Sweep (Olivia Williams) at his anger-management lessons.

Hands, not one to stay down when kicked, ingratiates himself with the mildy eccentric prison Governor (Christopher Plummer) by revealing a mutual interest in musicals. Scenting an opportunity for the "perfect" escape plan, Hands eggs the governor into staging a musical.

As rehearsals get underway, will Hands be able to carry off this audacious escape and will he be able to break his new relationship with his leading lady, Ms. Sweep?

Comparisons with the Full Monty are bound to be made, and thankfully, Lucky Break measures up well. Although it ditches the politically-charged setting - instead we are given the softer side of these hard-bitten cons - it is lighter and more amusing.

A top notch cast has been assembled, and thankfully Cattaneo doesn't waste them. Nesbitt is as loveable an Irish rogue as you could want, and Williams makes a pleasant enough love interest.

The supporting cast do their bit, with Bill Nighy as a con more used to the high life, and Christopher Plummer as the star-struck Governor is the most memorable.

Timothy Spall is also excellent in a role which provides much of the pathos in the film, the closing song, Sunny, being a perfect example of how well he manages to create a character who is both put-open and yet not entirely without hope.

A problem of the film is that, although amusing enough, there are no real standout sequences. Coming closest are some of the rehearsals for the play: "Neilson - the musical", thanks largely to the comic touch of Stephen Fry, who penned the witty lyrics.

Overall, this is characteristic of this film: a good, solid British comedy, but not one which pushes the boundaries in any way.

So you'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll certainly enjoy this charming comedy, but don't expect to see anything new.

Reviewed on: 14 Aug 2001
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British cons plan an escape by staging a prison musical.
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Angus Wolfe Murray ***

Director: Peter Cattaneo

Writer: Ronan Bennett

Starring: James Nesbitt, Olivia Williams, Timothy Spall, Bill Nighy, Christopher Plummer, Lennie James, Ron Cook, Frank Harper, Raymond Waring

Year: 2001

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


EIFF 2001

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