Guy Myhill’s debut feature The Goob is a movie that will have you gripped and absorbed but not necessarily enthralled. Set in the midst of a long hot summer in rural Norfolk, you may feel the heat but you might also be left feeling slightly cold.
Newcomer Liam Walpole plays the film’s protagonist known as Goob and he puts in a robust performance, showing that previous experience is not always essential. He has a face you won’t forget and with his tall, skinny figure, he fits the part perfectly. However the character at times feels slightly under-developed, and it can be a struggle to really get under his skin.
Sean Harris steals the show with his dark and distinguished display as the womanising stock car racer, Gene Womack. This is a character we’ve seen many times before, but Harris brings something new and edgy to the role. He is repulsive, sex-obsessed and an extremely troubled man whose favourite word begins with C – and no, it’s not Caravan. His volatile relationship with Goob slowly brews throughout the film, as he shacks up with Goob’s mother Janet, causing unbearable tension between the two.
Goob is self-assured, yet quiet and unassuming and just wants his mum to be happy. However, she is an insecure and damaged woman who will always end up with cheating men like Womack – it’s almost in her DNA – and Sienna Guillory portrays this faultlessly. Living in a caravan surrounded by just a small group of local neighbours, a new aspect of Goob’s character emerges when his gay cousin Elliot (Oliver Kennedy) arrives, and they join forces to rebel against the conformity of their lives. It’s from here that the film really starts to pick up, as Womack cruelly sends Elliot back home, causing heartache for Goob (and for the viewer too, since Kennedy’s performance provides the film with the spark it’s been crying out for).
Goob’s gloom doesn’t last too long though as exotic Eva arrives in the area and they soon form a relationship. She’s unlike the other girls and gives Goob some hope for better things, but of course this displeases Womack who is filled with jealousy, resentment and bitterness. Whenever it seems Goob is turning a corner in his life, Womack is always there to bring him back down. And even when he’s not around, the prevailing sense of doom is always there, and this is captured well by Myhill’s direction and the soundtrack.
The film is typically British, from the quick cuts to its rural landscapes and themes, and the influence of Shane Meadows is very much apparent. But it does lack some substance at times, and should have been more affecting. Some characters are underused and therefore feel slightly insignificant, and yet when a compelling character such as Elliot enters proceedings, he is not given enough screen time. The ending also feels too abrupt and could have done with being more drawn out, but ultimately, for Myhill’s first venture into film, it’s certainly a very worthy effort and there could very well be greater things to come from him in the future.