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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/06/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 88 mins

Beautifully shot drama that's not quite as emotionally engaging as it thinks it is but remains watchable thanks to a strong performance from young Thomas Grant.

What's it all about?
The debut feature by director Matthew Thompson, Dummy is a British film set in Brighton, starring Thomas Grant and Aaron Johnson as Jack and Danny, two brothers who are forced to cope with the death of their mother (Therese Bradley, in flashbacks). By an astonishing coincidence, the boys are independently wealthy and Danny has just turned 18 so he's awarded custody of pre-teen Jack.

Meanwhile, Jack's behaviour becomes increasingly erratic (including keeping a dummy of his mother in the bedroom and talking to it, Norman Bates-style), while Danny throws himself into his new DJ career and a burgeoning relationship with local girl Zoe (Emma Catherwood).

The Good
Young Thomas Grant is excellent as Jack, delivering a likeable, sympathetic performance that manages to make his eccentric behaviour entirely believable. In addition, the film is beautifully shot and Thompson makes terrific use of some great Brighton locations.

On top of that, the flashback structure of the plot works well, thanks to some effective editing, although the film falters in the final act and doesn't quite deliver the emotional punch you're expecting.

The Bad
As a study of the traumatic effects of grief, Dummy doesn't do anything that last year's Lars and the Real Girl didn't do ten times better. For one thing, the premise is never really explored as Jack creates the dummy fairly early on and nothing else really happens until the final twenty minutes or so. In addition, Aaron Johnson's acting skills have yet to manifest themselves, though his teen heartthrob status seems assured, if the number of shirtless or clad-only-in-pants scenes here is anything to go by.

Worth seeing?
Dummy is never less than watchable throughout, thanks to Thompson's impressive direction, the gorgeous cinematography and a strong performance from Thomas Grant, though it's not quite as moving as you feel it ought to be.

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Content updated: 24/08/2019 09:10

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