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Death of a Superhero

12 September 2011 No Comment

The initial buzz of the first few days has died down a bit, I can get to the part of the festival that’s most important, and honestly my favorite – THE MOVIES!

My review of We Need to Talk About Kevin is up on CBC.ca, if you want to read it over there.

Yesterday I saw two very different sort of films, first up was Death of a Superhero, by Ian Fitzgibbon, and starring Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster aka, the Adorable little kid from Nanny McFee & Love, Actually. He’s really now 21, and an absolute rising star. I’d put him easily on par with Kodi Smit-McPhee as my ‘Eventual Oscar Winners’ category.

Death of a Superhero tells the story of a teenage boy, Rob, fighting cancer. Perhaps fighting is not the exact phrase, so much as rebelling against it. The first half of the film centers on his relationship with his new Therapist (Serkis), loosely encouraging him to continue his passion of drawing. Some of the film’s story, Rob’s emotions and fears, are told through animated scenes – a fantasy world that he has created wherein he’s a Superhero being chased by, essentially, Death. As his prognoses goes from better to worse, the story switches gears, and we turn to Rob’s close friends who are determined to not let him die a virgin. This second half may seem out of place, but it successfully portrays the sort of desperate hope and loneliness that the character must be feeling at the time.

[Ian FitzGibbon (Director), Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aisling Loftus]
While still being emotional and serious, the film offers a lot of light comedy overtones. There are glimpses into the real dread and horror of the situation, sometimes via the animated sequences, and with flashes between the main character’s parents. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I don’t think it quite crosses over to the heart-wrenching or heart-warming film it wants to be. I would be very interested to read the book on which it was based, to see if there’s more to it. Even still, it’s a decent little film, that I think is easily accessible to a wide audience, and reminds me in some ways to last year’s Griff the Invisible. Touching, but doesn’t quite take flight.

Afterward, I stayed for one the rare Q&As that I actually feel helped me understand the film better. In particular, when the question was asked of Thomas, how he prepared for the role of a teenage terminal cancer patient. He was honest and replied that he didn’t visit cancer wards, or do much research on the disease itself.

The makeup, costume and props that were a part of his daily acting experience offers as much inspiration as he required in relation to the illness. He played the role how the character would have wanted to live, as a regular teen, who happened to be sick.

Photos from this Q&A and my Midnight Madness flick, Livid, can be found on my TIFF DAY 4 Flickr Set.