Sixty Six ('66) - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Director’s commentary.
THE 1966 World Cup provides the backdrop for this gentle coming-of-age tale that follows one Jewish boy’s goal to have the best Bar Mitzvah ever on the same day as England took on Germany.
Based on the tru-ish personal experiences of director Paul Weiland, Sixty Six boasts some nice performances and the odd chuckle, but ultimately lacks the deft touch that would have made it truly memorable.
Twelve-year-old Bernie Reubens (Gregg Sulkin) is determined to emerge from the shadow of his older brother by staging “the Jesus Christ of Bar Mitzvahs”.
But as football fever builds in support of England’s progress in the ’66 World Cup Finals, he’s dismayed to find that his big event coincides with the final itself.
So, Bernie begins to plot against England’s success while his cash-strapped parents (Helena Bonham Carter and Eddie Marsan) attempt to ward off a number of looming personal disasters.
For all of its good intentions, Sixty Six isn’t quite the success it ought to be.
For starters, the film is perhaps a little too personal for widespread appeal and a lot of the jokes are geared towards a deeper understanding of Jewish culture.
Several of the characters conform too stringently to stereotype and there’s a frustrating predictability surrounding many of the story arcs.
Fans hoping to get a taste of the feverish atmosphere surrounding England’s greatest footballing moment may also be disappointed to find that the focus is firmly off the field.
But then Weiland seems to be more concerned with keeping things Capra-esque and a lot of the bittersweet humour is clearly inspired by the likes of It’s A Wonderful Life.
Of the performances, it’s the adults who fare best. Marsan, in particular, is superb as the put-upon dad who struggles to provide the best he can for his family despite facing competition from all sides (both professional and personal), and Bonham Carter is typically strong as Bernie’s sympathetic mother.
But young Gregg Sulkin is, ironically, a little too sulky as the boy in question, while Stephen Rea, as a kindly doctor who befriends Bernie, appears to be struggling with some of the more obvious comedy.
That said, there are some nice pot-shots at the changing face of society – such as the emergence of supermarkets – that take on added poignance when viewed from today’s perspective.
And viewers can’t fail to reflect on England’s flagging football fortunes, especially given the proximity of this summer’s World Cup disappointment.
The film is also both amusing and touching in places even though it never really inspires the emotional conclusion it warrants.
Rather like watching the current England team, then, it promises a lot more than it ultimately delivers.
Running time: 94mins