Sixty Six

Sixty Six


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

This sounds like an autobiography, with its voice-over narrative, and looks self-consciously dated. The sixty six should be '66, the year England won the World Cup, not a number on a Bingo ball.

The boy Bernie (excellent Gregg Sulkin) is the butt of bullies at school and the victim of torture at home, thanks to older brother Alvie (Ben Newton). Mum (Helena Bonham Carter) is obsessed with cleanliness and Dad (Eddie Marsan) is hands off everything, especially life.

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All Bernie can look forward to is his bar mitzvah party. He plans for it in the garage, making up lists of guests, caterers and music, but things keep obstructing his hopes of experiencing the best day ever when Bernie Reuben will finally be seen and celebrated as the centre of the universe.

A supermarket - a new phenomenon is those days - opens next to Manny and his brother Jimmy's (Peter Serafinowicz) grocery store. Business plummets; they sell up; an attic fire destroys Manny's savings - he doesn't believe in banks - and belts have to be tightened. Almost daily the bar mitzvah is being downsized, even to the extent of asking Aunty Lila (Catherine Tate), who can't cook, to do the food. And then the worse news of all sinks in. The World Cup final is on the same day as the party.

Sixty Six is what the Americans call "rites of passage". Bernie has to survive shattered dreams, his father's depression, his brother's gloaty teasing, the possibility that England might not lose a game on the way to the final and the worst bar mitzvah in the entire tear-stained, hope-ravished muddly mess of a would be glorious day.

As comedy, it is family orientated, very Jewish and mild, a bit like Manny, except he is Wimp City's unofficial mayor, which doesn't excuse eating meals in his vest and long johns, in case he stains his suit.

The mood is nostalgic, with a spoonful of sugar for the ladies, but there is a restless feeling that won't desist. Like everyone else in London on the day of the final, you want to watch the game rather than Bernie having a lousy time at home, with a handful of guests, bored out of their tiny minds.

The film dribbles from one disappointment to another, whimpering gently, and, except as a personal memento of one boy's journey to Mannyhood, it leaves no trace, no mark on the icing, no lump in the throat, only sympathy and understanding, which, in this cruel world, is better than abandonment and an empty ballroom.

Reviewed on: 03 Nov 2006
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The World Cup final threatens to undermine Bernie Reuben's bar mitzvah party.
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Director: Paul Weiland

Writer: Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan

Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Marsan, Gregg Sulkin, Peter Serafinowicz, Ben Newton, Catherine Tate, Stephen Rae, Stephen Greif, Jason Watkins

Year: 2006

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK


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