Gervais and Bana lead a brilliant cast in a film which brightens your day; however, its predictable narrative causes the film to drag
So the newest film to be added to the ever increasing list of Netflix original productions, is the Ricky Gervais written and directed, Special Correspondents. The company have done rather well in terms of comedy, with many of their original line-up including both stand-up specials, as well as comedy series, so the announcement of a comedy movie was something that I eagerly awaited. For the most part, Special Correspondents didn’t disappoint.
The film stars Eric Bana as Frank Bonneville, a local radio celeb, who thinks he’s a lot bigger than he is. Alongside him is Ricky Gervais as Ian Finch, his technician- a sad, rather dull, middle aged man, for whom life never got as exciting as he’d hoped. The two are paired together to go out to Ecuador to report as special correspondents on the current war; however, after a mishap which left them without passports, the pair decide to hide out in an apartment opposite the radio station and pretend they are in Ecuador. As you can guess, things build up, lies spiral out of control, etc. etc,- you get the gist of it.
The thing that makes this film so fun is the cast. Bana and Gervais have brilliant banter between them, and the contrast between them is very well done; the audience empathising with Finch, and for the majority of the film thinking Frank is a bit of a pig. Vera Farmiga is positively hilarious as Ian’s wife Eleanor Finch, who uses the media coverage of her husband’s disappearance to turn herself into a public figure/media sensation/famous singer. Especially brilliant is her performance on a chat show of ‘A Dollar For Our Heroes’, a charity song she writes to raise money for the reporters return (but obviously is really just raising money for herself).
Credit must also go to the minor characters- Claire Maddox played by Kelly Macdonald is such a cutie, and the audience are rooting for her and Ian to be a thing from only a couple of minutes into the movie. America Ferrera and Raul Castillo are also brilliant as the pair who help hide the special correspondents in their attic.
There are many moments that made me laugh out loud, and I generally think the story was well written. However, there were two aspects which kind of lowered my opinion of the film.
The first is that after a while, the plot just became too predictable. Oh, they’re in a mess, that’s great. Oh look, they’ve now told everyone that they’re hostages, didn’t see that coming. Oh look, now they’re actually going to have to go to Ecuador, I wonder how that’s going to pan out? I mean, obviously I knew going into the film that it probably wasn’t going to be a fountain of complexity, but maybe one or two unexpected twists would have been welcome.
The other thing was that it felt like it dragged at points. The film wasn’t actually that long, clocking in at 101 minutes, but there were times where it felt long; which isn’t always the best sign.
On the whole though, it was a very fun, enjoyable film which I would definitely recommend. It provides a laugh, and the characters are all really interesting. I think it did, as a film, what it set out to do, and that is all we can ask for really.
Special Correspondents (2016), directed by Ricky Gervais, is available to stream on Netflix now.