A Room for Romeo Brass

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Despite being anti-climactic and a little unsatisfying, “A Room for Romeo Brass” nonetheless charms and entertains with its lovable characters and occasional bursts of unforeseen suspense.

This is a comedy, by and large, about two British teens. Romeo (Andrew Shim) is a chubby, simple fellow; his best friend and next-door neighbor Gavin (Ben Marshall) is physically weak, suffering from a spinal ailment that forces an operation and a long recovery process.

A crisis arrives when Morrell (Paddy Considine), a man 10 years their senior, becomes friendly with them. Morrell’s quirkiness and unpredictability lead to many laughs, especially as he tries to woo Romeo’s older sister (Vicky McClure). Soon, though, we see that he’s not just eccentric; he may be dangerous.

His most immediate threat is to Romeo and Gavin’s friendship. With Gavin laid up in bed, Romeo and Morrell become best buds, particularly as Morrell, for all his immaturity, fills the father role that Romeo’s own oafish father has been lax in. Morrell selfishly begins to draw Romeo away from Gavin, and Romeo must ultimately decide where his loyalties lie.

The acting is superb, particularly with Shim and Marshall as the two boys. Some of their profanity-laden dialogue sounds improvised; it certainly comes across as natural, the two of them acting every bit the young Brits as they speak with matter-of-fact drollness. (“Why did I buy so much food?” Romeo asks rhetorically. “Because you’re fat,” Gavin replies.)

To the credit of director and co-writer Shane Meadows, it takes only a few minutes to establish the boys’ friendship as an important, long-lasting one. Unfortunately, when it is threatened, it is fixed too fast and with too many nagging questions about Morrell (like why no one ever called the police on him).

But as flawed as it may be, the film is undeniably funny and warm. Its sweet-natured depiction of some very charismatic characters (Gavin’s dad is a hoot, too) helps it transcend its structural problems.

B+ (; R, abundant profanity, mild violence, brief sexual dialogue.)

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