A coming-of-age film with a difference, Paul Weiland's 'Sixty-Six' is an interesting social commentary, a snapshot of a moment in the history of a country and, above all, very entertaining fare.
It's the summer of 1966 and the England soccer team are beginning their campaign in the World Cup finals. Nobody thinks the campaign will amount to much. But Bernie Reuben (Sulkin) really hopes that it doesn't.
The 12-year-old is about to celebrate his bar mitzvah - the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony - with hundreds of family and friends expected to attend. Since his brother Alvie (Newton) celebrated the event Bernie has dreamt of being the centre of attention at his own bar mitzvah but now everything is going wrong.
His family are in dire financial straits, his ceremony is clashing with the World Cup final and he's becoming increasingly aware that the feeling of 'odd-one-out' that he harbours isn't going to go away. And pretty soon function rooms and seating plans become the least of his worries as factors begin to conspire against him at every turn.
Bernie's father Manny (Marsan) has lived in the shadow of his brother Jimmy (Serfinowicz) for many years in the family grocery shop which they run. Afraid of risks, the tax man and change of any kind, Manny wanders through life as the underdog, unable to assert himself and carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, until it drives him to the brink.
His beautiful wife Esther (Bonham Carter) was quite literally swept off her feet by him on the dancefloor – the one place that Manny can shine. And so history begins to repeat itself as Bernie struggles to gain the privileges afforded to his older brother. And eventually his constant fretting begins to take its toll on his health as the youngster begins to suffer from panic attacks. He turns to the kind Dr Barrie (Rea) for asthma treatment, kind words and help in understanding the world of football. And for light relief in all their lives there's Aunt Lila (Tate) – a well-intentioned soul with no cooking skills and precious-little tact.
'Sixty-Six' is the kind of film that won't tax your brain but will most likely leave you smiling. It's pleasant to watch, never overly-predictable and manages to make all its points in a rather subtle way, although dealing with heavy subjects like religious difference, social inadequacy and the politics of football.
A fine cast and simple storyline, pickled with well-timed humour, go a long way here.