Film Review: Ethel and Ernest @ Chapter

Posted on:   Posted by:

Ethel and Ernest

PG

Director: Roger Mainwood

Not everyone could tell of their parents stories…and in all fairness, not everyone should tell of their parents stories.

Artist Raymond Briggs has done just that in first his graphic novel and now feature film. Ethel and Ernest Briggs have nothing really remarkable about them. They were normal people, living normal lives. It is the time that they lived that was so noteworthy; the stories are so familiar and so personal that we can all easily identify with them. How many viewers will say they are so much like their grandparents? He a milkman and she a maid, they pass by each other everyday, leading to romance, a wedding and finally a child called Raymond (funnily enough).  His rites of passages and both Ernest & Ethels deaths all feature.

The animation is starkly traditional. Pleasant, yet nothing really leaps out or makes you gasp. We’re all familiar with Briggs work in The Snowman and to a lesser extent, When the Wind Blows, the ‘sketchy’ style is now perhaps a bit boring and flat. The characters faces glow with cheery red, certain items glow on the screen and the cityscapes are heavily detailed. It’s very much a piece of its time and feels a lot like a checklist to all historical events in the 30s to 60s: Hitler’s rise to power, WWII declared, the Blitz, rationing, Labour winning the postwar election, legalisation of homosexuality, the moon landing. You name it, it’s most likely mentioned in passing within this film.

It can be a soupy film, in attempts to over romanticise the parents relationship. There is a curious dynamic seen in both Ethel and Ernest (voiced by Brenda Blethyn and Jim Broadbent): she a shrewd, middle class girl and him a working class, Labour loving milkman. This class clash frequently reminds of us the “opposites attract” mentality seen in numerous films.

Plenty of hanky moments as Raymond as a young boy is sent off to the West Country to escape the war, both parents dying in 1971 within a few months of one another. The shock of seeing Ethel dead is a jolting experience, clashing with the refined hand drawn style of the film.

There is humour and teary moments, but somehow this animation remains as everyday as the subjects it questions.

Rating: 3 stars.


Related:

Review: Everyman Theatre – A Day in the Death of Joe Egg @ Chapter

Film Review @ Vue: 5 Ways “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them” Slayed Me

Get involved:

Want to reach thousands of young Cardiffians? Submit your news here or register to become a contributor.

*Want to become a reviewer? Join the Sprout Editorial Group on Facebook or email tom@thesprout.co.uk.

Click here for the next Sprout Editorial Group meeting.

Sprout Editorial Group Banner

Comment below:

It’s free and quick to comment below but we recommend signing up with your email or as a guest to keep usernames Sprouty and anonymous (and never post personal details!).

If you want more info on staying safe online, check out our online safety section.


Have your say

Funding Partners

families first
cardiff partnership
promo cymru