Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Sixty-Six”
By: Brian Cotnoir
“Sixty-Six” is a wonderful heart-warming independent comedy/drama that was released in 2006. The film takes place in England during the summer of the 1966 World Cup, and young Bernard “Bernie” Rubens is very excited about making his Bar Mitzvah. Unfortunately, for Bernie the day of his Bar Mitzvah is also the day of the World Cup soccer final. Because most English residents minds are pre-occupied with the World Cup the guests—family, friends, and neighbors—begin telling, Bernie, that they will come to his Bar Mitzvah unless England makes it to the finals, and now Bernie is determined more than ever to make sure that England does not make it to the World Cup finals.
One thing I liked about this film is that it is actually based off a true story from the film’s director, Paul Weiland. Weiland’s Bart Mitzvah was held on the same day as the World Cup finals in 1966, and because England made it to the finals many of the guests canceled and made up excuses as to why they could not go to his Bar Mitzvah. Now parts of the film were exaggerated—mostly to add dramatic effect—but to me that just added more things to like about the films story. To think that people actually put a sporting event ahead of the feelings of young boy is absolutely astonishing, and I praise Mr. Weiland for expressing some of his deep personal feelings in this film for others to enjoy.
Another great thing about the film “Sixty-Six” is the casting. Actress Helena Bonham Carter plays Bernie’s always optimistic and down-to-earth mother and actor Eddie Marsan is wonderful as Bernie’s neurotic, high strung, and paranoid father, Manny. I believe that Eddie Marsan is a highly underrated actor. He hasn’t really been in many leading roles, but he has given wonderful performances as a supporting actor in a lot of popular films. “The Illusionist”, “Sherlock Holmes” (2009), “V for Vendetta”, “Gangster No. 1”, “Gangs of New York” and “Hancock” are just a few of the mainstream films that Marsan has been featured in and did a wonderful job as an excellent supporting cast member.
Then there’s the star of the film, Gregg Sulkin, who plays the films protagonist, Bernie Rubens. I think Sulkin gives one of the best performances I’ve ever seen done by a child actor. I like the way that Sulkin plays Bernie because it reminded me of Peter Ostrum as “Charlie” in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” (1971). The same way that Bernie wanted his Bar Mitzvah reminded me of how Charlie wanted that golden ticket, and just like Charlie in “Willy Wonka” when something didn’t go Bernie’s way or didn’t turn out the way hoped he expressed anger, frustration, and disappointment. Everyone in the film keeps telling Bernie to grow up and be a man, but the truth is that even though a Bar Mitzvah is supposed to be when a young Jewish boy becomes a “man”, Bernie is still just a kid and has all the same emotions and typical reactions that most kids put in that position would have. I also like how Sulkin’s character had many great relationships with other characters in the film such as his mother, father, brother, his doctor, and Rabbi.
So in conclusion, I really liked “Sixty-Six”. It was a wonderful independent British comedy/drama and I enjoyed every minute of it. The film has its emotional ups and downs, but the film does end on happy note and I think most people will really enjoy this film.