Movie review / ‘Fisherman’s Friends’ (M)

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“Fisherman’s Friends” (M) *** and a half

I LOOKED up a small collection of British media reviews of director Chris Foggin’s realisation of Nick Moorcroft. Piers Ashworth and Meg Leonard’s screenplay telling how 10 lobster fishermen from Port Isaacs in Cornwall would sing a capella a repertoire of sea shanties just for pleasure and at one time were ranked nine in the BBC’s Top 40.

Many of those reviews were less than enthusiastic. But here on the other side of the planet, this reviewer feels differently. In my youth I sang with an amateur group whose productions included a goodly serve of a capella Australian bush songs. Nowadays, there’s not enough singing of songs with folksy populist lyrics, ribald or otherwise. The screechers, screamers and shouters, the grunters, groaners and yellers have come to dominate popular sing-making. 

In this relatively low-budget comedy/romantic drama, the singing has a warm, affectionate timbre and the lyrics are about people, places and events resonating as much for their content as for their simple musicality. The plot follows talent scout Danny (Daniel Mays) whose colleagues abandon him in Port Isaacs with instructions to sign the group and get back to London quick smart if not sooner. The best laid plans of mice and men… Romance blooms with the lead singer’s daughter.

It’s performed by a cast of good men and women who make a somewhat fictionalised plot credible if sometimes more polished than life lived pretty much the same way as it has done for several centuries. The rugged locations, where the exteriors for “Doc Martin” also get filmed, are beautiful. 

The story has its roots in real events. Several British films in recent decades have done that in various narrative and geographic situations on that sceptred isle set in the silver sea. Such familiarity doesn’t breed contempt in this case. 

At all cinemas


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"Fisherman’s Friends" (M) *** and a half
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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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