Gabriel & Me

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Review byMatthew Turner11/07/2001

One out of five stars
Running time: 84 mins

Depressing, badly-judged, frequently annoying film that desperately wants to be Billy Elliot and fails miserably.

Gabriel & Me used to be known by the far superior title of Jimmy Spud, after its main character. The title-change won't save it though, as this is definitely one to file under 'avoid', that is unless seeing an oddly-subdued Billy Connolly in heavy-mascara as the archangel Gabriel is your idea of a fun night out.

Newcomer Sean Landless (sadly something of a charisma-free zone, especially when inevitably compared with Jamie Bell) plays Jimmy Spud, a lonely boy with an Angry Dad (Iain Glen). When he discovers that his Dad is dying of cancer, he gets into his head that perhaps he can save him if he becomes an angel, so he makes himself a set of wings and starts practising by prancing around and trying to fly.

Before you can say 'Hallelujah', up pops the archangel Gabriel (Billy Connelly) to teach him a thing or two about what being an angel is all about. (It's not all wings and halos, you know, oh no). And oh, it just keeps getting worse.

The comparisons with Billy Elliot are just too many to ignore. Gritty‚ Northern setting? Check. Ignored and bullied kid? Check. Angry Dad Who Doesn't Understand? Check. Kid wears 'dress' and annoys Dad even more? Yep.

Well-known 'comedy' face thrown into the cast to make it all more bankable? You guessed it, but where it all came together for Billy Elliot, it all falls horribly apart here - even the Gabriel scenes (of which there are surprisingly few) don't work, as they're neither amusing enough nor dramatic enough.

There is one moment in the film that stands out: Billy is practising flying by walking off the arm of the sofa. Repeatedly he falls to the ground, until, suddenly, for a split-second, he hovers in the air, watched incomprehensibly by his Mum. However, this one, well-handled subtly effective scene isn't enough to save the rest of the film, which dissolves quickly into forced sentimentality.

In short, Gabriel & Me should be avoided the way you'd avoid - well - anyone who said they were the archangel Gabriel, really. Don't say you weren't warned!

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Content updated: 18/02/2020 06:17

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