Saturday, 3 January 2009

Film Club

The Film Club, David Gilmour's memoir describing his attempt to engage with his disaffected teenage son through movies was always going to be irresistible as far as this reader was concerned, even if it was for no more than the comments it contained on the films it referenced. The premise seemed simple; Gilmour allowed his 15 year old son to drop out of school on only two conditions: firstly no drugs and secondly that his son watched three movies a week with him. As a former film critic, he displays considerable skill in finding the right movies for opening up discussions on all the issues that matter to teenagers: girls, sex, music, work (or the lack of it), alcohol, tobacco, and (inevitably) other less benign drugs.

The book itself was an exceptionally easy read. Somewhat blokey in tone, but that was probably unavoidable. Some of his insights into the films are very stimulating although there are surely one or two errors; his claim that Hitchcock filmed Psycho in 8mm (supposedly to give it the look of a porn movie) is plain wrong.

When reading this, I assumed that it was a novel (the book has a list of Gilmour's earlier novels) and when I reached the end I felt that it was all too neat, too well structured, and with too satisfactory a resolution to ever reflect real life; nothing ever goes that smoothly. So I was surprised (and suspicious) when I saw the book shown as a 'memoir' on the back cover. Internet searches suggest that it is indeed one, although I think that the author has tidied up events to too great a degree. Whether this is out of respect for his son's privacy, or simply because of his inclination as a writer to bring a degree of order to events is hard to judge, but it left the book ringing less than totally true and that was a major disappointment.

Nevertheless I've read it a second time. That means that I did enjoy it enough to recommend it.