BURN BURN BURN
UK (2015) 106 minutes.
Directors/writers: Chanya Button
Cast: Laura Carmichael (Seph), Chloe Pirrie (Alex), Jack Farthing (Dan), Joe Dempsie (James)
Screening 7 February 2018 at Swindon Arts Centre
UK, the present. Twenty-something Londoners Seph and Alex attend the funeral of their best friend Dan. They learn that his dying wish was that the pair should go on a road trip across Britain to scatter his ashes in locations important to him, for reasons he will give in videos which he asks them to watch en route. But as the journey progresses, it becomes clear that Dan is hoping to settle more than just his own final resting places....
Chanya Button's directorial debut is a road trip movie about life and death that boasts a real depth of emotional intelligence, while still having a great sense of humour about itself.
The title is taken from a passage in Jack Kerouac's seminal Beat novel On the Road that describes the excitement life should bring, especially if you surround yourself with eccentric souls. Button and screenwriter Charlie Covell capture late 20s ennui wonderfully through their fully realised main characters, who are both experiencing existential crises.
.... Pirrie is fantastic as a woman struggling with a dark secret and the outrageous behaviour of her best friend. Her flushed cheeks and melancholic gazes imbue a real sense of embarrassment and alienation. Farthing delivers drunken, bitter monologues with convincing passion and Carmichael does 'hot mess' with unbridled enthusiasm.
The friendship between the women swerves between drily witty and unexpectedly moving. Many of the wayward characters they meet on the road exhibit kindness and compassion and, when it's time for the girls to repay the favour with the appearance of a fragile hitchhiker, it's difficult not to get teary-eyed and totally wrapped up in the final throes of their tour.
Katherine McLaughlin, The List
... there are a couple of brilliant guest appearances (the best being Alice Lowe as a weirdo tour guide). But for me, Burn Burn Burn is better on friendship, that time in your twenties when your mates are your everything – more important than boyfriends/girlfriends/family – the people who know you best, love you mostly, but can’t stand the sight of you sometimes.
.... The approach is a blend of comedy of discomfort – a brilliant cameo by Julian Rhind-Tutt is mortifyingly funny – and sober reflection on lives that have reached a turning point. It’s not wholly original, but Burn Burn Burn is nicely acted and emotionally authentic. Button shows real promise as a director.
Cath Clarke, Time Out / Wendy Ide, The Observer
- The film premiered at the London Film Festival 2015, where it was nominated in the 'Best Film' competition. Because of distributor issues, it didn't get a UK theatrical release until late in 2016.
- It has fared well where it has been shown in several lesser known international film festivals - winning prizes in such diverse places as Odessa (Ukraine), Novi Sad (Serbia), Umbertide (Italy), and Sedona (Arizona USA).