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VOD Review: Fisherman’s Friends

July 10, 2020

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Based on the true story of the singing group The Fisherman’s Friends, a group of locals from Port Isaac, Cornwall who became unlikely musical stars with their traditional renditions of old sea shanties, Fisherman’s Friends is a British feel-good film in the vein of The Full Monty and the recent Military Wives.

After already proving to be a crowdpleaser in England, the film is now being released on VOD for North American audiences, and I have to say that I was quite charmed by it. This is simply a very enjoyable film to watch, and the soundtrack, which features a mix of original recordings and covers by the film’s very capable cast, is excellent.

The film centres around Danny (Daniel Mays), a cynical music executive from London who finds himself in Port Isaac for a stag weekend with his colleagues, where he discovers a group of ten local men, mostly fishermen, who sing traditional sea shanties together in their spare time. While his boss Troy (Noel Clarke) initially tells him to approach the men about a record deal as a mean practical joke, Danny comes to see promise in the men, and becomes determined to actually get them a record deal and turn them into stars.

During his time in Cornwall, Danny comes to find a newfound respect for the fishermen and their traditional way of life, hearing the centuries of history that are represented in their music. The film does take some dramatic licenses with the story of the real Fisherman’s Friends, namely with the inclusion of a romantic subplot between Danny and Alwyn (Tuppence Middleton), who happens to be the daughter of Jim (James Purefoy), one of the group’s lead singers. The characters are in fact all amalgamations of real life figures or fictional creations.

But the gist of the story remains the same; The Fisherman’s Friends were actually discovered by a record executive and had a surprise hit album in 2010, no doubt helped by the folk revival that was happening around that time. This story of unlikely stardom is inspiring, and it’s nicely played out in the film by a fine ensemble cast that all puts in solid work.

Directed by Chris Foggin, working from a script credited to Nick Moorcroft, Meg Leonard and James Spring, Fisherman’s Friends offers a nicely handled mix of humour, character drama and romance. It’s a laid-back and very enjoyable film, featuring a cast of characters that are fun to hang out with for a couple of hours. Perhaps not surprisingly, a sequel to the film is already in development.

Fisherman’s Friends is being released today on a variety of digital and VOD platforms. It’s distributed in Canada by levelFILM.

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