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Starter For Ten

Get Educated 

Year: 2006 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Starter For Ten

Director: Tom Vaughan

Starring: James McAvoy, Dominic Cooper, Rebecca Hall, Catherine Tate

Set in 1985, a working class teenager played by James McAvoy comes to grips with his first year at Bristol University. He experiences the highs and lows of trying to meet new people and fit in. When he gets the chance, he seizes his opportunity to live his dream of appearing on University Challenge. Romance follows and the young fresher falls hopelessly for his attractive team mate.

This is a very British movie and sees the feature debut of Cold Feet director Tom Vaughan. Starter for Ten is an adaptation of screenwriter David Nicholls's well-liked 2004 novel, and centres around 18 year old Brian’s (McAvoy) determination to make it onto University Challenge. However, while superficially key in terms of plot, Bristol University’s progress in the contest is effectively a framework for the more universal elements of the tale. Brian faces many of the challenges that at some point in time touch us all: his grief for his dead father, the bewilderment of falling in love for the first time, and the wider agonies of growing up and leaving home. As friendships evolve, values are being formed and mistakes are inevitably made.

This is a great, light hearted romantic comedy. Nonetheless, much of the love story and the comedy are formulaic, offering only a romanticised version of the embarrassments and troubles of going to college for the first time. Versatile Catherine Tate puts in an amiable performance as an over enthusiastic and cooing mother. This enjoyable film is assisted by top notch 1980’s soundtrack with bands such as The Cure, Buzzcocks, The Smiths, Tears for Fears, The Undertones and Kate Bush. For this reason we can forgive them missing the fact that the student’s car radio plays a song which was not released until late in the summer of 1987!

Overall, McAvoy carries the picture boldly as a leading man, and there is a fine performance from Benedict Cumberbatch as Patrick, the tense team leader. Best of all Mark Gatiss gives an eerily precise, pitch perfect impersonation of Bamber Gascoigne. As Warwick progress through University challenge this year this film is topical to say the least.

Andrew Morris

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Screenings of this film:

2006/2007 Spring Term (35mm)