There is simply one word said with so much enthusiasm and sentiment to describe director Chris Foggin’s film Fisherman’s Friends (2019)…CHARMING!!! It’s a movie about a group of fishermen – mainly men – from Cornwall who sing sea shanties on weekends for charity and are heard by a cynical music manager named Danny (Daniel Mays). The film is definitely a fish-out-of-water story mixed with a rom-com featuring some outstanding folk singing. It. Is. Charming!
What makes this even more exciting is that the Fisherman’s Friends (not the movie, but the group of guys singing band name) is real. The story in the film has embellishments, of course – but the heart of the group shines through all of the film trappings. Each storyline feels lovingly crafted to deliver what moviegoers expect while feeling authentic to the group and its members.
Danny’s arc is predictable but feels so natural as he goes from cynic to true believer. From a big city guy to the small country village fan, Danny and his connection with Alwyn (Tuppence Middleton), the daughter of the village’s alpha male, Jim (James Purefoy), is the heart of the rom-com – and it’s great. The two have real chemistry, and their connections feel organic and natural as they move past their rough introduction and fall into their mutual interest.
Purefoy is great in the film as well. However, Jago (David Hayman) is easily the standout character. Jago is Jim’s father, but he has clearly had no issue in letting his son take the lead. He’s living his best life, offering wisdom to all who will hear him out. In a town that size, it is pretty much everyone.
That small-town vibe that is so important to the characters is also what makes this film so great. The sense of community and comradery that comes pouring out of this film makes it a sheer joy to watch. There wasn’t a moment that didn’t put a smile on my face, even when that necessary conflict that felt a little contrived or predictable would rear its ugly head. I was afraid that the film would jump the shark or go too far with the drama, but it manages to skirt the line just enough that it never felt like too much. Predictable at times, but still tolerable.
Fisherman’s Friends is one of those movies that will probably be white noise when it deserves to be attentively listened to. It’s about a simpler time and appreciating each other – not the things we have. The music – while not always a subject people would often discuss in candid conversations – is engaging and entrancing, reminding you of the people who sing it rather than the industry that has constructed it. Fisherman’s Friends earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating, and will be available On Demand and Digital July 24, 2020.