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Film Review: Fisherman's Friends

21 March 19 words: Laura Enright

The remarkable true story of The Fisherman's Friends folk group gets the big-screen treatment... 

Director: Chris Foggin

Starring: James Purefoy, Daniel Mays, Tuppence Middelton

Running time: 108 mins

“The rock and roll of 1752” is how folk group ‘Fisherman’s Friends’ describe their music that weaves through this unbelievable, unusual and yet true tale. Fisherman’s Friends is a local-gone-global story that follows a group of ten fishermen of varying ages, who sing on the harbour of their village to raise money for charity. In 2010, their little village of Port Isaac, Cornwall, is shaken when hotshot music manager Danny Anderson arrives from London on a stag-do and stumbles upon the group. Danny fights to convince the sceptical record-label he works for that these men are stars waiting to be discovered. Fisherman’s Friends touches on themes of love and betrayal, family and friendship, fame, fortune and... fish. Corny as it is (we’re barely settled into our seats when someone makes the inevitable ‘sucking on a Fisherman’s Friend’ joke), I laughed a lot, cried a little and thoroughly enjoyed this feel good family-friend flick.

It’s heart-warming and emotional, an easy watch and loaded with cheese, but if that’s the type of film you’re looking for, then you’ll come away feeling uplifted

With the beautiful seaside and green fields of Cornwall as the backdrop, it’s refreshing to see an unusual accent and setting take centre stage. In the sea of Hollywood films that dominate cinema nowadays (excuse the pun), it’s endearing to see Cornwall represented on the big-screen. We get glimpses of the Cornish language in places too, adding to its authenticity. The film encapsulates the unique sense of humour and charm of the Cornish people, all served with a dollop of cheese on top. No, this film won’t win any awards for subtlety or originality in terms of scripting and does border on cringey at times, but it sure is wholesome. 

With beautiful music that pervades the film, so-called ‘sea shanties’ that are harmony-rich and have world-wide appeal, it’s no wonder that the singing fishermen hit the big-time. Interestingly, when doing some research prior to seeing the film, I found that the director chose to represent the joyous side of the story – sadly the ‘Fisherman’s Friends’ group have been riddled with tragedy, including two of their members dying in a back-stage freak accident and other members passing away, meaning the line-up has changed overtime.

It’s heart-warming and emotional, an easy watch and loaded with cheese, but if that’s the type of film you’re looking for, then you’ll come away feeling uplifted. If you enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody,you’ll love this. They’re the most unlikely boy band in the world... or should I say buoy band (sorry – that one was on purpose) and you’ll be cheering for them all the way through.

Did you know? During the pub quiz in The Golden Lion, several of the actual Fishermen's Friends can be seen in the opposing team.

Fisherman's Friends is screening at Broadway Cinema until Thursday 28 March

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