A year-or-so ago Toast was approached by a film producer asking whether we’d lend his cash-strapped film some clothes. This happens often-enough – films look to companies to help them out in return for a credit, a little extra promotion, and we try to oblige as much as we can. But this particular film went by the name of Barafundle Bay and as such it piqued our interest – the real Barafundle Bay is a beautiful, secluded (though by no means always empty) beach on the Pembrokeshire coast, an hour-or-so drive from home and a favourite spot. It is beaten by the wind and blanketed in grey at times, boasts a tropical-blue sea and white sand at others.
The next we heard of the film was when it premiered at the closing gala of this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, its name changed to Third Star (apparently too many people were unable to pronounce Barafundle). Then, last week, we were invited to the not-quite-so-grand (but still lovely) Welsh premiere in Cardiff. We arrived a little late, rushing from work along the M4 to get there in time, so missed the brief appearance of Toast clothes at the beginning. But that didn’t matter. As we settled into our seats we discovered a film that was beautiful, moving and funny in equal measure.
The central character is James (Benedict Cumberbatch), a young man diagnosed with terminal cancer who, determined to make the most of his remaining time, invites his three closest friends (Tom Burke, JJ Feild, Adam Robertson) on a camping trip to Barafundle Bay, a place that has happy memories for him. Their journey is not an easy one, it is a physically demanding walk to the bay (they’re required to push, pull and carry James there as his strength wanes) beset by problems both practical and emotional. As they near their destination they tease, bicker, fight and provoke one another in all possible ways – from who has brought too much kit, to picking out and criticising each other’s faults and misguided decisions. Ultimately though all this pales when James reveals his real reason for bringing them to the bay…
Third Star has received criticism for its lack of originality, for being clichéd. But this assessment forgets that the film is based on a true story – such things do happen, this is the stuff of real life. The film is knowing and funny as it sails close to predictability, so manages to avoid it at the last minute. The acting is absorbing, the men’s relationships convincing and the photography makes the most of the lovely but sometimes brutal Pembrokeshire coast. Most of all, by observing these four young men from a self-absorbed, overly-analytical generation so closely, and by challenging them to bravery at the end, Third Star is able to snap us out of own our potential naval-gazing.