Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • Production
  • 15
  • Comedy, Drama
  • 1996
  • 107 mins

Brassed Off

Ewan McGregor in Mark Herman's Brassed Off

Synopsis

Ewan McGregor and Pete Poslethwaite star in this typically British bittersweet comedy about a Yorkshire mining town turning to music for inspiration when faced with the loss of its way of life.

About

The impact of Conservative Party energy policy on a small Yorkshire mining town may not sound like fertile ground for comedy. Nor indeed is the trombone a likely instrument for political dissent. However Mark Herman's Brassed Off successfully blends the personal and the political, and though the setting is dour, the result is an angry yet frequently uplifting tale of community empowerment featuring a committed British cast.

Set in the northern town of Grimley in 1992, the story deals with the imminent closure of the town's coal mine - the area's only significant source of employment. Among the protestors are cocky worker Andy (Ewan McGregor) and struggling family man Phil (Steven Tompkinson). But the real focus is Phil's father Danny (Pete Postlethwaite), leader of the Grimley Colliery Brass Band. With the band already haemorrhaging musicians, the closure of the pit will mean the music's over for good.

As the nationwide Battle of the Bands Competition looms, the music - unexpectedly affecting - becomes emblematic of community and continuity. In the face of so-called progress, each of the characters endures their own personal crisis. Phil's has to do with loyalty, Danny's with his health, Andy's with the discovery that beautiful new flugelhorn player and childhood sweetheart Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald) now works for the Coal Board who are seeking to shut the town down.

Herman's writing veers between the sharp and the sweet and the film mines a rich comic seam. But, like part-time children's entertainer Phil delivering a stream of bitter invective while dressed as a clown, the humour's laced with a strong sense of injustice, and the conclusion is built round a stirring condemnation of Thatcherism. An impassioned example of formula being channelled into new territory and one that boasts truckloads of wit and confidence.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Jim Carter, Peter Gunn, Ken Colley, Tara Fitzgerald, Pete Postlethwaite, Ewan McGregor
  • Director: Mark Herman
  • Screen Writer: Mark Herman
  • Producer: Steve Abbott
  • Photographer: Andy Collins
  • Composer: Trevor Jones

In a nutshell

The issues might be heavy but the treatment's light and the finale irresistibly moving. All involved give immensely assured performances and director-writer Herman's script is peppered with spiky gags.

by Jon Fortgang

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Baggage Claim

    Paula Patton stars in writer-director David E Talbert's romcom about a woman's desperate hunt to find herself a husband.

  • Film4

    Metallica: Through The Never

    Director Nimród Antal and cinematographer Gyula Pados blend fact and fiction as they capture an obscure live Metallica concert in North America.

    On Film4: 30 Apr 11:10PM

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Cannes 2016: 10 Picks

    Film4.com site editor and festival newbie Michael Leader selects ten films from the Official Selection at this year's Cannes Film Festival that he can't wait to see... Go easy on me, I'm new around t

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Cannes 2016: 10 picks

    Catherine Bray runs her eye over this year¿s line-up and selects ten films she can¿t wait to watch at the 69th Cannes Film Festival The official line-up is now locked and loaded, so time to have a ru

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share