Some thingsparticularly adolescencenever change. One kid will always be picked last for the futbol team (even after the kid with polio), and siblings will always be rivals. Men who keep their money in a shoebox will eventually get burned, and Bar Mitzvahs will throw families into disarray. In Paul Weiland's film "Sixty Six," the inevitable occursover and over.
We watch as Burnie Reubens, a buck-toothed asthmatic with glasses thicker than sliced pastrami, is overlooked, one-upped and pushed around. His one chance for "making an impression on the world, to keep from disappearing" is to have "the Gone with the Wind,
the Jesus Christ" of Bar Mitzvahs. He meticulously plans everything, from the place settings to the guest list, all with the secret wish of topping his older brother Alvie's Bar Mitzvah.
But when he discovers that his big day will coincide with the 1966 World Cup Final, he becomes the only soul in North London who hopes for England's defeat. While the rest of the country watches in ecstatic disbelief as England does the impossible, Burnie prays for a team-wide case of diarrhea.
Even as guest after guest feigns plague and destruction to get out of his Bar Mitzvah, other forces begin to eclipse his dream. Disasters, one after another, befall his family. Everything in his world slowly falls apart, and his own coming of age is forced more by fires and toppling ladders than by any religious ceremony.
Flawlessly written and cast, "Sixty Six" is smart, funny and tender without being sentimental. Its characters, both major and minor (including a blind rabbi with all the answers and an aunt whose cooking would inspire nausea in a starving sailor) are quirky enough to seem straight out of real life.
Veteran Helena Bonham Carter is spot on as the no-nonsense mother with a cigarette always in hand, as is Eddie Marsan, the neurotic and paranoid father suffering with his own demons. He also lives in the shadow of an older brother and presides over a failing family business. Gregg Sulkin, as Burnie, is the perfect adolescent beta male, lisping, wheezing and whining his way through the movie, making the pubescent years all too memorable. The movie captures England in the 1960s through the lens of a Jewish teenage boy and his many defeats, which make his successes all the sweeter.
to the author: wonderful review. your colorful details, eg: "glasses thicker than sliced pastrami" and "whose cooking would inspire nausea in a starving sailor," brought this film to life. though the plight of a beta male isn't my preferred genre of film (ordinarily), i feel compelled to see this movie thanks to your review.