Sixty Six

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Posted July 31, 2008 in Film

It’s England, 1966, and 12-year old Bernie Rubens (Gregg Sulkin) is in danger of having The Worst. Bar Mitzvah. Ever. As his blind rabbi has convinced him that this one day will set the course for his entire future adulthood, anything less than a sit-down dinner for 250—or at least more guests than his aggro older brother Alvie (Ben Newton) had—means he’ll forever be a last-picked-at-recess loser just like dear old dad (Eddie Marsan), an OCD grocer who despite being married to a knockout wife (Helena Bonham Carter is some damned fine retro wear) is a putz. Bernie wants the “Gone with the Wind of Bar Mitzvahs—the Jesus Christ of Bar Mizvahs!” and so this nice, shy Jewish boy takes up black magic against the 1966 England World Cup team to ensure they don’t dare make it to the finals, which is scheduled on his big day. Like Running with Scissors or an exceptionally cruel episode of The Wonder Years, Paul Weiland’s whimsical and eye-poppingly bright comedy is shot through with cringe-inducing misery. Watching poor Bernie’s hopes—and his family’s fortunes—get unrelentingly crushed after a supermarket opens down the block (naturally, the boy sees bankruptcy primarily as a threat to renting a fancy hotel), you’d accuse writers Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan of sadism, except that it all happened, somewhat, to director Weiland. Super 8 footage over the closing credits shows the actual pubescent Paul sulking through his brother’s class act Bar Mitzvah, but as long as he keeps turning out film as delightfully keen about manhood, the kid’ll be just fine. (Amy Nicholson)

 


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