Screen Jems Film Review: ‘Brassed Off’, A Peculiar But Touching Melodic Drama

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Margaret Jemian, Staff Writer

One of the greatest feelings in the world is when you watch a new film and it completely and totally surprises you. It’s a rare, but incredibly memorable sensation.

Set in a small town in Northern England, the local mine is on the brink of a shutdown. The stress from the issue at hand is having a deep effect on the performances of the members of the colliery brass band, because if they lose the mine, the band goes under with it. When a former resident and daughter of a past band member returns to assess the status of the mine, tensions rise, as the band shoots their shot at the national competition. Watch as the raw emotionality of the miner’s desperation builds up into one grand ending that is sure to leave no tears left to cry! 

Last year, a friend in band mentioned this movie to me. My first impression of the title was alarm, then confusion, then finally intrigue, which is when I told him what I tell everyone who recommends a film to me: I’ll put it on my list.

Now when I say that, I won’t lie: I will usually write it down on one of my eight movie lists and then forget about it for a while. But in all fairness, I wish I had watched this sooner. Brassed Off is one of those movies that you wouldn’t expect to exist. The subject is absolutely unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

As a brass player myself, I found the film very relatable, despite certain intricacies that make it rather unrealistic. Musicians alike will recognize the fake playing and horrid conducting (thanks a lot, Mr. Carson), but all will appreciate the timeless tunes it brings.

The film features phenomenal performances of Julius Fučík’s “Florentiner March,” “Danny Boy,” and Joaquín Rodrigo’s “Concierto De Aranjuez,” to name a few, by The Flowers Band. Music symbolizing togetherness is at the center of the plot, and if you don’t cry when you hear those last two songs in the film, you need to make an appointment with your local cardiologist.

I can’t exactly tie Brassed Off to one singular genre, but that just speaks to the singularity it presents to the movie world. Each new scene gives the viewer insight into how each of the band member’s lives are affected by stress that the threat of the mine closure brings. It’s heart-wrenching.

Between the spine-twitching acts of desperation and the rich, full tones of the brass– fake-played, which is annoying, but the fact that Ewan McGregor does it makes it a bit better, if you know what I mean– Brassed Off is a distinctive film that speaks to the power music possesses and will remind you that when you’re in a bad place, togetherness and unity is the cure. 

Oh, and also maybe “Concierto De Aranjuez.” What a piece.