The Be All and End All (tbc)

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Review byMatthew Turner10/12/2010

Threeout of Five stars
Running time: 99 mins

Enjoyable comedy that steers admirably clear of mawkishness, thanks to a decent script and strong, likeable performances from its two young leads.

What's it all about?
Directed by Bruce Webb, The Be All and End All is set in Liverpool and stars Eugene Byrne and Josh Bolt as 15-year-old best friends Ziggy and Robbie (the fact that they're named after similarly paired Grange Hill characters is probably not a coincidence), who both fall for the same girl (Bryony Seth as Sophie) while on a camping holiday. However, on the drive home the next day, Robbie collapses and is diagnosed with a terminal heart condition.

With no hope of recovery, Robbie is placed on a children's ward run by kindly nurse Tina (Liza Tarbuck) and begs Ziggy to help him lose his virginity before he dies. Meanwhile, Ziggy realises that his mother (Neve McIntosh) has been lying to him about the whereabouts of his absent father and sets out to find him.

The Good
Byrne and Holt are both excellent, delivering likeable performances and generating a believably sparky chemistry as the two best friends. There's also strong support from Neve McIntosh and Connor McIntyre (as Robbie's father), while Liza Tarbuck contributes an effective, warm-hearted turn as the sympathetic Tina and Leanne Best is very amusing as cheerful prostitute Krystal.

Webb maintains firm control of the tone throughout and the script is extremely well written, managing to steer clear of mawkishness in favour of some all-too-recognisable human reactions, such as the way Robbie's father lashes out at Ziggy. It's also surprisingly funny in places (e.g. Ziggy attempting to get rid of Robbie's porn stash) and is quietly moving without resorting to overly sentimental dialogue.

The Bad
The only real stumbling point is that neither Byrne nor Bolt can quite pull off their shouty moments – as a result, both actors seem like they're trying too hard and the scenes don't ring true. It's also slightly guilty of underwriting its female characters – particularly Sophie and charitable classmate Kirsty (Laura Swift) – but that's perhaps understandable given that the film is presented very much from the boys' point of view.

Worth seeing?
Despite its flaws, The Be All and End All is an engaging, likeable comedy with a decent script and strong performances from its two young leads. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 19/01/2020 12:46

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