Movie Review by EDF
Starring: James Nesbitt, Olivia Williams, Timothy Spall, Bill Nighy, Lennie James
Director: Peter Cattaneo
Hot on the heels of THE PAROLE OFFICER comes another UK effort, LUCKY BREAK. As his directorial follow-up to THE FULL MONTY, there is a bit of pressure on Peter Cattaneo for this movie to perform just as well.
Jimmy (James Nesbitt) and Rudy (Lennie James) are two small time crooks sent to HM Prison Long Rudford for attempting to rob a bank. Arriving at the prison, Jimmy is introduced to Mr. Perry (Ron Cook), the prison’s Chief of Security, who lets Jimmy know who the boss is. Jimmy is bunking with Cliff Gumbell (Timothy Spall) who is constantly bullied by Perry. When Perry delivers the mail, instead of handing over Gumbell’s post, he tears it up in front of him. In protest, Jimmy tears his letter up in front of Perry and is promptly thrown into solitary confinement.
On his release from solitary, Jimmy is greeted to the sound of singing as he is marched down to meet the Governor, Graham Mortimer (Christopher Plummer). Jimmy seizes the opportunity to get friendly with the Governor, he engages him in a conversation about the musical SOUTH PACIFIC. Later, at the prison workshop, Jimmy meets Rudy, who blames Jimmy for getting them in their present situation. Both of them have to attend the Prisoner Support Unit, run by the attractive and intelligent Annabel Sweep (Olivia Williams), which holds an Anger Management class. Annabel considers Jimmy to be another lost cause.
Finding himself working alongside Rudy, he informs Jimmy that the only way out is through one of the high windows at the Old Chapel, through a gate and then just a fence and the perimeter wall to freedom. To help them get into the Old Chapel, Jimmy remembers seeing a manuscript on the Governor’s desk, ‘NELSON – THE MUSICAL by Graham Mortimer’ and talks to the Governor about putting on a production. Jimmy’s also convinced that he can get other inmates involved. The Governor agrees to Jimmy’s suggestion and promptly brings in Paul Dean (Julian Barratt), a nervous drama therapy tutor. Jimmy is picked to play Nelson, who protests that due to his Irish accent he would not be able to play the role. When it comes to picking the female lead, the only person suitable is Annabel, who also protests, but as she is the only woman working in the men’s prison, she reluctantly accepts the role. During the rehearsals, Jimmy gets close to Annabel who is not willing to accept that she is falling for a prisoner.
Will the prison break be successful or will Perry spot what the prisoners are really up to?
As I said at the start of the review, there are high expectations from this movie and it is unfair to put that sort of pressure on it. While some of the characterisations are stereotyped, the saving grace is the quality of the actors involved. Both James Nesbitt and Olivia Williams play off each other well and you do end up caring for them and the minor characters as well. The only problem is that for the most part, it looks like a TV movie but with fine direction from Peter Cattaneo. As with most English comedies, there is at least one tragic scene, which, if handled wrong, will bring the whole movie down. Luckily, this does not affect the flow of the movie too much. Also check out the end credits as well. Beyond that, I would be giving too much away. Not as sharp as THE PAROLE OFFICER but still a good alternative, especially for the hilarious musical.