Current Issue #488

Film Review:
Fisherman's Friends

This based-on-a-true-story audience-pleaser features some nice crooning (of course) and a smidgeon of Cornish charm but, nevertheless, comes off feeling decidedly fishy.

Desperate to distinguish itself as a true story, it’s basically accurate in the sense that yes, there really is a bunch of blokey singers from Port Isaac, Cornwall, who call themselves the Fisherman’s Friends and perform typically a cappella sea shanties and traditional folk songs, and yes, they did indeed release a popular CD through Universal Music. But the rest is stuff and nonsense.

The completely fictional Danny (Daniel Mays, star of another dubiously truthful recent pic, Swimming With Men) is a rubbery London record exec who visits Cornwall for a friend’s stag weekend and gets pranked into signing a bunch of shanty-singing anglers. He assures their ostensible leader Jim (James Purefoy) that he’s being totally serious, starts falling for Jim’s divorced daughter Alwyn (Tuppence Middleton), and then discovers that it’s all been an improbable trick.

Nevertheless, he persists with promoting the guys, partially because he thinks they’ve got real talent, partially because he gave his word and partially because he’s more than a little afraid they’d thump him if they knew what was really going on. Danny sticks around for some clumsy, wannabe-Local Hero comedy, and then sends the lads to London in an attempt to make them famous and save his skin. And, as is always the case with this sort of thing, there’s no suspense, because we all know they were ultimately successful.

The songs are lovely, with spirited renditions of Nelson’s Blood, Sweet Ladies Of Plymouth and even South Australia, but the rest of director Chris Foggin’s outing is grating, with the topbilled Mays at his most mannered and irritating. Watching him ham away early on and then loosen up at length with all that salty sea air and even saltier male bonding is an altogether icky experience.

But, of course, there are punters out there who’ll nevertheless fall for this one hook, line and stinker, sorry, sinker.

Fisherman’s Friends (M) is in cinemas now

DM Bradley

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