Rubber Boots and Shanties!!
1. Cornwall, 2010. Possibly a Thursday.
JIM (James Purefoy) and his crew of fellow lobster fishermen gather by their boat.
JIM: 'Morning lads. Now, as you know, I am Jim Trevelyan. You probably vaguely recognise my face from various direct-to-DVD thrillers and character parts in prestige TV shows, but in this here film I am the stubborn, unsophisticated, but stalwart and principled patriarch of this fishing village, and I will be making it clear in all my dialogue just how Cornish and authentic I am.'
CORNISH FISHERMEN: 'Arrrrrr.'
JIM's daughter ALWYN (Tuppence Middleton) joins them.
ALWYN: 'Now, I am your daughter, Dad, and you probably know my face from off the telly and various low-budget British movies. I am a feisty single mum, as this allows me to show my grounded, maternal personality while still being available for a trite romance. My job is to talk almost entirely in platitudes and clumsily communicate the message of the film, about the importance of The Important Things in Life.'
JIM: 'We had best be about our lobster fishing and singing, for we need to establish the tone of this film, while still providing the opportunity for some scenic footage of Cornwall.'
The boat sails about scenically while the FISHERMEN sing heartily.
SINGING CORNISH FISHERMEN: 'We sing and fish the whole day long, from dawn until it goes dark / We've Cornish clichés by the ton, we've even more than Poldark.'
2. London: a phoney, shallow necropolis of the soul, apparently (although I bet the film producers are happy enough living there).
DANNY (Daniel Mays), a music business type, meets his boss TROY (Noel Clarke) and some other friends of little significance to the plot.
DANNY: 'Hello lads! I am the go-getting, outwardly jaded city boy just crying out to be put back in touch with The Important Things In Life. You probably know my face from off the telly and various low-budget British films, although I was in the recent stellar conflict movie that everyone agreed was good, too. Shall we all go on a stag weekend in Cornwall?'
TROY: 'Sounds good to me! I am your cynical, money-grubbing American boss. You probably know my face from off the telly and various low-budget British films, but I was in one of the Star Trek movies, too (although not one of the good ones). In this movie I have a beard and I'm having to do an American accent, and it seems to have destroyed my ability to act. It's like I'm first-series Mickey Smith again.'
DANNY: 'I'm sorry to hear that. Shall we go off with the intention of mocking the Cornish yokels, little realising one of us is in for a life-changing experience?'
TROY: 'Yeah, all right.'
3. A harbour in Cornwall.
The FISHERMEN are preparing to give an outdoor concert.
JIM: 'All right, we've established all the main characters in very broad strokes, it's time for the inciting incident. Let's get this plot underway.'
SINGING CORNISH FISHERMEN: 'I love my boat, I love my hat, I love my lobster pot / Let's sing a bit more in this style, it'll help to start the plot.'
DANNY and TROY are watching the concert.
TROY: 'Danny! As a strange and elaborate practical joke, I order you to stay here and go to great lengths to get these singing fishermen to sign a record contract that I have no intention of honouring while I go off back to London with the others.'
DANNY: 'Okay! Er – why are you doing this to me? I thought we were friends, and I've not really done anything to antagonise you.'
TROY: 'Sorry, man. The plot demands it.'
SINGING CORNISH FISHERMEN: 'You're born to be a fisherman, or born to be a farmer / You've no choice over what you do, when you're in a melodrama.'
4. A pub in Cornwall.
JIM is talking to his MUM in the bar.
JIM's MUM: 'So that there outsider finds himself stuck amongst us, initially against his will, but slowly learning to appreciate the value of our authentic community-centred way of life?'
JIM: 'Looks that way.'
JIM's MUM: 'So it's basically another knock-off of Local Hero, only with less wit and charm and more folk music?'
JIM's MUM: 'Don't you just hate it when people hit on a successful formula, and then mindlessly repeat themselves.'
JIM: 'Don't you worry, Mum, I'm sure this column will go back to normal next week.'
Outside the pub, DANNY is talking to ALWYN.
DANNY: 'So, I was initially here against my will, but now I have decided to stay, either because I am falling in love with you or because your authentic community-centred way of life has shown me what The Important Things in Life are.'
ALWYN: 'The Important Things in Life are very important, Danny.'
DANNY: 'Thanks for making that absolutely clear to me.'
ALWYN: 'Is this not a sudden and not especially well-handled transformation of your essential character, Danny?'
DANNY: 'Sorry, the plot demands it.'
5. JIM and ALWYN's house in Cornwall.
DANNY is talking to ALWYN.
DANNY: 'So, now we have fallen in love, and after some rather meandering plot developments I have managed to secure a record deal for your Dad's band against the wishes of my shallow money-grubbing boss. I have also come to appreciate The Important Things in Life.'
ALWYN: 'The Important Things in Life are very important, Danny. How long has all this taken?'
DANNY: 'The internal chronology has become a bit vague, I'm afraid. But everything else seems to be going well.'
JIM and the FISHERMEN enter.
JIM: 'I'm sorry to say this, but we're at the end of the second act and it's time for Danny to have a dark night of the soul which will help him realise all he has learned.'
FISHERMEN: 'Arrrrrr. And not before time.'
JIM: 'Danny, you are nothing but another shallow outsider who doesn't understand our authentic community-centric ways! Plus, someone lovable has died and we're all very upset. Get out of Cornwall and never return!'
DANNY: 'All right, I'll be off then. See you all at the climax for a life-affirming resolution.'
SINGING CORNISH FISHERMEN: 'It's now the part with pathos so the film will seem less shallow / Just like the bit in Four Weddings, where they kill off Simon Callow.'
6. At the pub.
DANNY enters. Everyone else is there waiting.
DANNY: 'I'm back for the climactic resolution, where I demonstrate my commitment to Alwyn and show just how much I have changed. I now fully understand the importance of your authentic community-centric way of life, and many other Important Things in Life.'
ALWYN: 'The Important Things in Life are very important, Danny.'
JIM: 'I will therefore have to grudgingly admit you into our community, although I do note the storyline about a folk group of singing fishermen proving unexpectedly successful has become somewhat eclipsed by a subplot about who owns the pub and its symbolic relevance to the issue of the survival of communities like this one.'
DANNY: 'Shall we all live happily ever after while the credits show us photos of the real-life folk group?'
JIM: 'Aye, may as well. I think we've time for one last sea shanty, too. Hit it lads!'
SINGING CORNISH FISHERMEN: 'The final verdict's on its way, and it's sure to be nasty / There's less meat to this bloody film than in a Cornish pasty.'
Fisherman's Friends (directed by Chris Foggin) is in cinemas now, and is sure to folk you up.
Also This Week
…Capernaum, an astoundingly powerful social-realist drama from Lebanon; makes Roma look very dainty and polite. Following a horrendous series of experiences living on the streets, a young boy sues his own parents for giving birth to him. Guaranteed to move any civilised viewer to rage and despair, but stays compellingly watchable thanks to a near-total lack of sentimentality and a remarkable performance from 12-year-old Zain Al Rafeea. Probably one of the films of the year.