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Purely Belter review

Purely Belter
15certificate 15
Running time: 99 minutes
Starring: Chris Beattie, Greg McLane, Charlie Hardwick, Tim Healy, Roy Hudd, Kevin Whately
Rating 6 out of 10

Gerry (Chris Beattie) and Sewell (Greg McLane) are teenage best friends wholive and breathe Newcastle United Football Club. Both dream of the day they can buy a season pass to St James's Park. Unfortunately, the tickets would cost £1,000 and, well, they are £1,000 short.

Money is just the beginning of their problems: they have much more pressing concerns at home. Gerry's mam (Charlie Hardwick) is seriously ill and his sister Clare (Tracy Whitwell) is finding it tough as a single parent, trying to raise baby Sheara (named after Newcastle's captain).

All three live in fear of Gerry's violent, alcoholic father (Tim Healy) - a self-loathing wife-beater who has forced them to change addresses, and would undoubtedly take everything of value in the house if ever he tracked them down. Meanwhile, Sewell is in love with local lass Gemma (Jody Baldwin) whose current boyfriend happens to be "built like a brickhouse", and is consumed with worry about his father (Roy Hudd) who cannot take care of himself properly, let alone a growing lad. It's certainly grim up north, but with a little bit of luck, things will turnout reet cushdy for the two friends.

Based on the novel The Season Ticket by Jonathan Tulloch, Purely Belter is a bittersweet comedy about realising your dreams which captures the pluck and the spirit of working-class teenagers on Tyneside.

Beattie and McLane, both making their film debuts, are an engaging and instantly watchable double-act, refusing to accept their lot in life, striving for something better for themselves and their loved ones. The success of the film hangs totally on their performances (they are on screen virtually the whole time), and they never disappoint.

Their natural charm and enthusiasm shines through the heavy grey of the Newcastle morn, and they have some wonderful comic interludes together. The other young performers are equally impressive and Hardwick, Hudd and Kevin Whately provide solid support as the adults who both hinder and help the boys progress. Healy deserves special mention as the villain of the piece - his portrayal of a man prone to extreme acts of violence is frighteningly convincing.

The overall tone of the film is downbeat, and some of the darker sections are very uncomfortable to watch. Moreover, the ending is incredibly depressing - a short, sharp kick in the guts to counter balance Gabrielle warbling on the soundtrack that "Dreams can come true".

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