Film Review: Fisherman’s Friends (2019)

Based on a true story, the heart-rending Fisherman’s Friends is entirely sweet-natured good fun

“I’m Bonio.
‘It’s Bono, you pillock’.”

Despite being a fan of a Brit-flick, I don’t know if I’d’ve ventured to Fisherman’s Friends if it weren’t for the presence of a certain Mr Swainsbury in the cast. But I’m glad I did, as it proves a rather sweetly good-natured film that passes the time most amiably.

Based on the true story of The Fisherman’s Friends, a Cornish all-male a capella vocal group whose renditions of sea shanties scored them a record deal and a top 10 hit album, the film recounts how such a thing might have come about, as music executive Danny winds up in Port Isaac for a stag do and finds himself bewitched by the group, and the place, and a girl, natch.

The screenplay, by Nick Moorcroft, Meg Leonard and Piers Ashworth, doesn’t break any boundaries or challenge any conventions, but then it never intends to. It is full of corny (Cornish?) jokes about sucking (think about it) and London drink prices, playing up the divide between their rural idyll and the “wankers from London”. And as Danny falls in love with it all, it’s hard not to be a little seduced too.

Chris Foggin’s personable film is stuffed with likeable performances. Danny Mays’ Danny, Maggie Steed’s Maggie, David Hayman’s Jago, Tuppence Middleton’s Alwyn and of course Sam Swainsbury’s Rowan…all do well to evoke the perils and pleasures of a remote, tight-knit community, the stresses it places on relationships as well as the intimacy it fosters. All underscored by some beautiful music and those spine-tingling harmonies. Great fun.  

Photo: Rob Youngson

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