Gabriel & Me (DVD Review)18 Jan, 2009 By: Anne Sherber
Stars Iain Glen, David Bradley, Sean Landless, Rosie Rowell, Billy Connolly.
Jimmy, a lonely boy living in a working-class suburb in northern England with his parents and grandfather, decides that he can save his cancer-stricken dad if only he can become an angel.
Enter Billy Connolly as the archangel Gabriel, who periodically appears to Jimmy to give the boy an update on his progress toward divinity.
Gabriel & Me is a film on a highwire. On one side is a tale steeped in magical realism: Gabriel has come to Earth to assist a boy in need and, in turn, the boy learns that there is magic in small, everyday acts of kindness. On the other side is a family drama about a dying parent and the ways in which a child comes to terms with that terrible fact. Although there are several lovely moments when the film is well balanced between those worlds, it also, as often as not, totters over to one side or the other.
Several of the film’s actors do a great deal with what they are given. Iain Glen, especially, as Jimmy’s harshly judgmental father, finds humanity and, ultimately, redemption, in what might have been a one-dimensional character. And David Bradley is wonderful as the grandfather who serves as a calming buffer between a father and son who don’t really understand each other.
Sean Landless delivers a remarkable performance as Jimmy, a boy whose flashes of insight are clouded by his youth, anger and despair.
Gabriel & Me is an interesting, if not always successful, drama about a family coping with conflict and loss that is worth a look, especially for viewers who enjoyed Billy Elliot, an earlier work from screenwriter Lee Hall.
A word of warning: The northern British accents are often so thick that the dialogue is difficult to understand.