By Ray Bennett
EDINBURGH – Four men go on a camping trip to Wales seeking a memorable beach from childhood, but one of them is dying and his motives might be different in Hattie Dalton’s gloomy drama “Third Star.”
Screened on the closing night of the Edinburgh International Film Festival on June 26, the film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as James, who has inoperable and terminal cancer and wants his buddies to share one last venture with him. The actor’s sensitive performance, in which he expresses more with his eyes than is in the script, does much to redeem an otherwise dreary exercise.
Such a downbeat tale might not find appreciative audiences at a time when many are seeking respite from difficult days, and box office attention would be appear to be slight.
Writer Vaughan Sivell establishes the four pals without much information but then Davy (Tom Burke), Miles (JJ Field, pictured right with Cumberbatch), Bill (Adam Robertson) and James don’t appear to know each other very well. Their exchanges involve imparting information they should know already even if it’s news to viewers.
Their banter is at the level of mates off to watch the football even though they should be aware of the significance of carting a dying man to visit a treasured place from when he was a kid.
There’s a drinking scene that leads to a brawl in a pub and arguments over who has brought too much to carry and who has left the important stuff behind. There’s an almost calamitous brush near a cliff (above) and storms that carry away vital equipment.
James’s intentions aren’t much of a mystery and were it not for Cumberbatch’s capacity to generate intelligent sympathy it would be tempting to suggest he get on with it.
As it is, the film trudges on with banal revelations from the three friends and attempts to suggest there will be surprises later on. Right.
Venue: Edinburgh International Film Festival; Cast: Tom Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, JJ Feild, Adam Robertson; Director: Hattie Dalton; Writer: Vaughan Sivell; Director of photography: Carlos Catalan; Production designer: Richard Campling; Music: Stephen Hilton; Costume designer: Marianne Agertoft; Editor: Peter Christelis; Producers: Kelly Broad, Vaughan Sivell; Not rated; running time, 92 minutes.
This review appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.