Burn Burn BurnCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Chanya Button’s debut feature film, Burn Burn Burn, follows the journey of Seph (Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael) and Alex (Chloe Pirrie), two best friends in their late 20s, lost in the midst of a classic quarter-life crisis. It has all the makings of a run-of-the-mill road-trip movie, but what makes this one slightly more interesting is that they are just two of a trio of best mates. The third is dead – his ashes in a Tupperware locked in the glove compartment of the car.
Dan (Poldark‘s Jack Farthing) has died a premature death from pancreatic cancer and, at his funeral, Seph and Alex are given a parting gift: a USB drive of video diaries recorded at various points during his illness. These video diaries include instructions on where to scatter his ashes across the country, along with some advice so brutally honest it could only be offered from his death bed.
And so, the slightly morbid road trip begins. The journey sends the friends the length and breadth of the UK, with some inevitable fights, tears and revelations along the way. The antics of the two central characters provide a good mix of laughs and tears as they struggle to come to terms with Dan’s death, but also with how they have been living their own lives. Carmichael and Pirrie both offer compelling performances, with a chemistry that makes their portrayal of an extremely close and especially strained relationship simultaneously funny and tragic. The girls are a compelling pair: Seph is open and emotional, while Alex is frustratingly closed-off, until an intense and emotional scene where she explains to her friend exactly why this is.
This scene, it should be noted, plays out while Seph is strapped upright to a prop cross, having been roped into testing the stage for an am-dram performance of Jesus Christ Superstar, just one of many tense scenes quickly offset by dark humour. Burn Burn Burn is packed with sentimentality, which verges on sickly sweet, but is rescued by the dark jokes and the deceased Dan’s occasional outright nastiness.
Visually, the film truly makes the most of the picturesque locations where Dan’s remains are to be scattered. Vast open countryside adds to the sense of loss and confusion that the central pair portray. Most striking of all are the views from the top of Ben Lomond, where they complete their strange quest. Mist rises from the mountain as the friends walk arm in arm, and a voiceover from Dan’s last video offers his final parting advice.
Burn Burn Burn is released in selected cinemas on 28th October 2016.
Watch the trailer for Burn Burn Burn here: