When the kinetic Rory moves into his room in the Carrigmore Residential Home for the Disabled, his effect on the home is immediate. Most telling is his friendship with Michael, a young man with cerebral palsy and nearly unintelligible speech. Somehow, Rory understands Michael, and encourages him to experience life outside the confines of home.
Mary Surratt is the lone female charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination trial of Abraham Lincoln. As the whole nation turns against her, she is forced to rely on her reluctant lawyer to uncover the truth and save her life.
In 1985, against the backdrop of Thatcherism, Brian Jackson enrolls in the University of Bristol, a scholarship boy from seaside Essex with a love of knowledge for its own sake and a childhood spent watching "University Challenge," a college quiz show. At Bristol he tries out for the Challenge team and falls under the spell of Alice, a lovely blond with an extensive sexual past. He's smitten, and he carelessly manages to hurt the feelings of Rebecca Epstein, a friend whose politics and wit he admires. The Challenge finale is coming up; maybe Brian can redeem himself and still avoid being a prat.Written by
The producers of this film may have dug a pit for themselves by choosing to set it in 1985. The 1985 competition (which was not broadcast for a year) was a brief return for the series after a short hiatus. Granada had decided to pep it up by modifying the format. In round 1 teams played each other over two programs, the first of which comprised of a "baton relay". Competitors were pitched one-against-one and had to answer two questions correctly before passing the baton on to the team-mate to the left. None of this was reflected in the film. In addition, the set was completely redesigned in red and black, unlike the more recognizable scheme employed in the film. See more »
I admit it. I'd made some mistakes. Okay, some big mistakes. Loads of them. But you can't hide in your room forever feeling sorry for yourself. It's not practical. At some point, you've got to get back out there, face up to things, and confront your demons. Ever since I can remember, I'd wanted to be clever. Some people are born clever, same way some people are born beautiful. I'm not one of those people. I'm going to have to work at it, put in the effort, and if I mess it up, I'll learn from ...
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During the opening credits the theme music from the BBC program University Challenge (1962), which the title of the film refers to, is played. See more »
Performed by Yazoo (as Yaz)
Written by Alison Moyet, Vince Clarke
Published by Sony/ATV Songs LLC o/b/o Sony/ATV Music Publishing UK Ltd. / Musical Moments UK Ltd. / Mega Music Ltd.
Courtesy of Sire Records
By Arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing See more »
Though he's been acting since 1995, young James McAvoy is poised to become the next great European import based on his kindly faun Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia and his wide-eyed work in The Last King of Scotland alongside Forest Whittaker's fierce Idi Amin. Yet sometimes a performer's measure isn't in their solid ensemble acting, but how they carry a minor work with the sheer force of talent or personality.
McAvoy's turn in Starter for Ten as frosh geek Brian Jackson, at University in 1985, is wondrously physical and inspired. He's graced with an infinitely pliable, benevolent face that's both plain and handsome. As a smart, shy working class boy, still reeling from the loss of his father years ago, McAvoy wields Jackson's intelligence as both sword and shield he draws you to him with his wit, and keeps you at arm's length with the same. For all his smarts, he's at a loss when drawn to both the enigmatic Julie (the piercingly funny Catherine Tate) a partner on the school's quiz team and the politically active Rebecca (the gangly beauty Rebecca Hall who hits low vocal notes reminiscent of Emma Thompson).
Directed by Tom Vaughan from an agile screenplay by David Nicholls, Starter for Ten is the best movie John Hughes would have made if he was English and set his comedies in college instead of high school. Though predictable and erratically paced, there's a real suggestion of university life in it. And McAvoy's creation wrings true emotion. He has a showcase scene in a restaurant where he goes from laughter to tears within the same sentence you're with him all the way. The movie is an entertaining piffle, but it serves notice that you just might be watching the birth of a star.
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