Starter for 10
"Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be clever," Brian Jackson confesses in voice over at the start of Starter for 10. A working-class student from Essex navigating his first year at Bristol University, Brian (James McAvoy) has a lot to prove. While his hometown mates worry about him turning into a poncey wanker, Brian's biggest concern is making the team for the long-running British television quiz show University Challenge. (The game show, which began in 1962 and is something like the UK's answer to Jeopardy, pits four-member teams from posh universities against each other. "Starter" questions, worth ten points each, gave the film its title.) Amidst Tarts and Vicars dances, anti-Apartheid rallies, minging dorm rooms and puffs of marijuana smoke, Brian also finds himself romantically torn between two very different co-eds: ultra-fit blonde bombshell and University Challenge team-mate Alice (Alice Eve), and thoughtful, politically-conscious Rebecca Epstein (Rebecca Hall in Christopher Nolan's The Prestige). With Margaret Thatcher's economically depressed Blighty as a backdrop, and a killer, pitch-perfect New Wave soundtrack - featuring music by The cure, Wham! Bananarama, Yaz, The Smiths, New Order, Tears For Fears, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Buzzcocks, and The Psychedelic Furs - in the foreground, Starter for 10 is the great British teen 80s movie that never was... It is also altogether delightful, with UK comedy sensation Catherine Tate co-starring as Brian's steadfast mum, and McAvoy (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe's Mr. Tumnus the Faun) delivering the kind of charming, humourous performance that reinvigorates a genre. Though Brian Jackson knows everything, like all honest coming-of-age stories, Starter for 10 is ultimately about its hero discovering the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Directed by Tom Vaughan, based on the novel by David Nicholls, Starter for 10 is produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Pippa Harris and executive produced by Sam Mendes, Steven Shareshain, Nathalie Marciano, and Michelle Chydzik Sowa.
1hr 30mins long
M Contains violence and sexual references.