Starting anew after the death of their mother, 9-year-old Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) is ever practical, while his 7-year-old brother Damian (Alex Etel) uses imagination, fantasy, and faith to make sense of his confusing world. When a suitcase full of money falls out of the sky at Damian's feet, they have only a week to spend it before the UK switches from the Pound to the Euro. They hide the cash from their father Ronnie (James Nesbitt) and begin to think of ways of spending it but ultimately it leads them to realise that lots of money brings lots of trouble.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Damian (Alex Etel) sees dead people but they're mostly saints (or saintly, as in the case of his deceased mother), in this fanciful film about two youngsters who acquire a bag full of cash when it falls out of the sky. It doesn't really, but Damian thinks so, for a while anyway. The screenplay sets up a morality story that's rather trite but valid enough: money can't buy happiness. It also works the sympathy angle with the boys' mother recently dead.
But the happy go lucky storytelling style, tricked up with fancy image manipulation, gets bogged down in its good intentions when their dad learns about the loot and decides to keep it - now against the kids' awakened conscience. By now he has also picked up a budding new romance in Dorothy (Daisy Donovan), the young woman who does the school rounds collecting loose change for clean water wells in African villages.
Damian's imagination continues to kick in with new visions, but the to and fro about what to do with quarter of a million pounds in cash gets repetitive after the first few options of giving to the poor runs out of steam.
When the film turns left into a potential thriller as a crook comes looking for the stash, it also lurches out of its tracks, without the edge or the invention to maintain tension.
As the curse of cash is unleashed, Damien takes a tough decision, and is rewarded by a vision of his mother. For all the wrong reasons, his dear departed mother is presented as a rather wholesome and sweet but fuddy duddy matronly character; seeing the much dollier Dorothy with Ronnie makes us think that perhaps she did him a service by moving on, as she doesn't appear to be his type. (I mention this purely as a characterisation note, not in any misogynist or anti-feminist mood.)
Danny Boyle's heart is in the right place, though, and there are some fun moments, especially in the first half. The film looks terrific, but it can't quite overcome its inherent flaws as a slightly over manipulated work.
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CAST: Alex Etel, Lewis McGibbon, Daisy Donovan, James Nesbitt, Christopher Fulford, Jane Hogarth, Pearce Quigley, Leslie Phillips
PRODUCER: Graham Broadbent, Andrew Hauptman, Damian Jones
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle
SCRIPT: Frank Cottrell Boyce (based on his own novel)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Anthony Dod Mantle
EDITOR: Chris Gill
MUSIC: John Murphy
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Tildesley
RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 11, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: December 14, 2005
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.