Third Star -- Film Review

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EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Four men go on a camping trip to Wales seeking a memorable beach from childhood, but one of them is dying, and his motives might be different in Hattie Dalton's gloomy drama "Third Star."

Screened on the closing night of the recently concluded Edinburgh International Film Festival, the film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as James, who has inoperable terminal cancer and wants his buddies to share one last venture with him. The actor's sensitive performance, in which he expresses more with his eyes than is in the script, does much to redeem an otherwise dreary exercise.

Such a downbeat tale might not find appreciative audiences at a time when many are seeking respite from difficult days, and boxoffice attention would be appear to be slight.

Writer Vaughan Sivell establishes the four pals without much information, but then Davy (Tom Burke), Miles (JJ Field), Bill (Adam Robertson) and James don't appear to know one another very well. Their exchanges involve imparting information they should know already even if it's news to viewers.

Their banter is at the level of mates off to watch football, even though they should be aware of the significance of carting a dying man to visit a treasured place from when he was a kid.

There's a drinking scene that leads to a brawl in a pub and arguments over who has brought too much to carry and who has left the important stuff behind. There's an almost calamitous brush near a cliff and storms that carry away vital equipment.

James' intentions aren't much of a mystery, and were it not for Cumberbatch's capacity to generate intelligent sympathy, it would be tempting to suggest he get on with it.

As it is, the film trudges on with banal revelations from the three friends and attempts to suggest there will be surprises later on. Right.

Venue: Edinburgh International Film Festival
Cast: Tom Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, JJ Feild, Adam Robertson
Director: Hattie Dalton
Screenwriter: Vaughan Sivelll
Producers: Kelly Broad, Vaughan Sivell
Director of photography: Carlos Catalan
Production designer: Richard Campling
Costume designer: Marianne Agertoft
Editor: Peter Christelis
No rating, 92 minutes
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