Dusty and Me (2016) – Film Review
Director: Betsan Morris Evans
Cast: Luke Newberry, Ian Hart, Lesley Sharp
by Roger Crow
It’s three years since I visited the Bubwith set of ‘Slapper and Me’, a 1977-set film about one lad and his dog. Now it finally gets a release, and unsurprisingly the title has been changed to the slightly more commercial Dusty and Me. Though it’s filled with awkward moments, some intentional, it’s a little film with a big heart.
Luke Newberry is Dusty, the black sheep of his working class Yorkshire family who listens to classical music and reads French newspapers, while his dad, Big Eddie, wastes his life down the pub. As lonely Dusty sets his sights on university, his life is changed when he crosses paths with a greyhound called Slapper.
So far, so Kes. But there are also flashes of Amelie in Betsan Morris Evans’ often charming film, with a bit of Gregory’s Girl thrown in, especially those awkward moments when the young protagonist tries to win the heart of Chrissie, the prettiest girl in town. She’s played by Genevieve Gaunt, who stole the show earlier this year in York with stage drama Monogamy; definitely a face to watch in future.
Ian Hart and Lesley Sharp are always good value for money, and they offer colour and warmth, or a lack of it as Dusty’s parents, while Newberry gives a good turn as the gangly, awkward hero. There’s also a fine turn from Ben Batt as Dusty’s shady brother, Little Eddie, offering advice to his sibling via a series of ‘filmed’ postcards.
“Should win a cult following”
It’s hard to know who the film is aimed at. At times it plays like a kids’ film, but at others it seems more for teens. Those who grew up in the era of disco and punk should also warm to the period setting.
It’s far from perfect, and some of the cinematic brush strokes are a tad broad, but it’s still a charming curio which should win a cult following, not least from viewers in Goole who will recognise some of the streets and shops.
In short: a beautifully crafted period comedy drama, superbly directed with an excellent cast. Like the dog at the heart of the piece, this has legs.