Monday 17 June 2019

Boyz in the Wood - Opening Gala of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019

Three teenagers - Dean (Rian Gordon), Duncan (Lewis Gribben) and DJ Beatroot (Viraj Juneja) are being forced to do their Duke of Edinburgh Awards as punishment for blowing up a toilet block. They're joined by homeschooled Ian (Samuel Bottomley) who is desperately keen to do his Duke of Edinburgh Award but has no friends to do it with.Their teacher takes them into the Scottish Hilghlands in a minibus and then tells them to make their own way through the mountains to the campsite where he will meet them. He then promptly drives off leaving the inept boys to their own devices. Which of course leads to misadventure and disagreements.

The group soon find themselves the target of a trigger happy member of the landed gentry (Eddie Izzard) who they assume is the Duke of Edinburgh. Whoever he actually is, he wants to rid the countryside of what he sees as youthful scum and goes after the boys.

Meanwhile the local constabulary are distracted from their search for the Highlands bread thief by reports of a large gang marauding the Highlands and start trailing the boys across the mountains.

The film is visually inventive, including weird visual effects mirroring the experience of the characters getting high on the best kept secret in the Highlands (hallucinogenic rabbit droppings) and the sountrack reverberates with hip hop music provided by DJ Beatroot.

Behind all the fun there are serious points being made about the rural urban divide, class and intergenerational conflict and the alienation of young people from nature. But apart from one scene, the film carries it's core messages lightly.

This is a hilarious, action packed adventure and a brilliantly entertaining opening to this year's film festival, though I suspect Visit Scotland might not entirely approve at yet another film showing the dark side of the Scottish Highlands.

Boys in the Wood screens as the Opening Gala of the Edinburgh International Film Festival at 2045, Wednesday 19 June at the Festival Theatre. There seem to still be some tickets available and you can book yours here.

Boyz in the Wood would make a great double bill with Hunt for the Wilderpeople, one of my favourite ever films that has screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival and which is co-incidentally screening (one screening only) tonight at the Cameo in Edinburgh. You can read my review of Hunt for the Wilderpeople here.

 Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of this film.

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