By: Trevor Chartrand
Fisherman’s Friends is a charming little movie that celebrates the strength of a close community, shining its spotlight on a gang of quirky singing fisherman from Port Isaac, UK. Unlike the throat lozenge brand that shares this same title, this film goes down smooth and easy – and it won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Based on true events, the film tells the story of a smug music producer named Jim (James Purefoy) who, as a prank, is ordered by his boss to sign a group of singing fishermen to his label. As he tries to sway the rugged fishermen into a lavish career in the music industry, he’s won over instead by the townsfolk and the bond their community all share – and of course, his budding romance with the bandleader’s daughter Alwyn (Disappearance at Clifton Hill’s Tuppence Middleton) keeps him around as well.
The strength of the film’s script is undoubtedly its cast of eccentric characters. Fisherman’s Friends hits all the right beats in all the right places narratively, but it’s the swash-buckling charm of the ensemble that make this film truly memorable. It’s easy to forgive the predictable direction of the story thanks to the journey the characters take us on. The cast of fisherman each have a warm, down-to-earth, and inviting quality; they’re full of life, with big hearts and contagious optimism.
Even as I write this, the catchy and upbeat shanty songs featured in the film are ringing on repeat in my ears. The music in the film is unique and peppy, with a toe-tapping beat that just won’t quit. The distinct sound of the songs and the performances from the cast are strong enough that you’ll ignore the fact that this group of singing fisherman are accompanied by apparently invisible instruments – you never see any of them playing a guitar, a banjo, an accordion or a drum kit, but you’ll sure as hell hear them… somehow.
Watching Fisherman’s Friends is like sitting down with a group of drinking buddies and reminiscing about old times. The world established in the film is welcoming and heartfelt. The characters all go through a surprising series of trials and tribulations, including the odd tragedy or two, but they always stick together. Beyond the premise of a band trying to land a record deal, the film masterfully weaves subplots together that seem superfluous at first, but wind up integral to the narrative overall. There’s a lot of emotional material in this true story to draw from, and the close attention to detail here makes for a grounded and believable viewing experience.
Ultimately, Fisherman’s Friends is bound to reel you in; hook, line, and sinker. The film celebrates a close-knit community and showcases the power of people supporting people. The movie is as simple as it is complex, and an inspiring watch despite a predictable and somewhat formulaic narrative thrust. Because of its superb storytelling and its incredibly endearing, off-beat, comedic cast, Figherman’s Friend receives a high recommendation from me.
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Trevor Chartrand: @OhHaiTrebor