Burn Burn Burn (2015)

Burn Burn Burn
Director: Chanya Button
Writer: Charlie Covell
Cast: Chloe Pirrie, Laura Carmichael, Joe Dempsie, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Sally Phillips, Jack Farthing, Alison Steadman, Jane Asher, Eleanor Matsuura, Alice Lowe
Seen on: 14.8.2022

Seph (Laura Carmichael) and Alex (Chloe Pirrie) have just lost their best friend, Dan (Jack Farthing), to cancer. Still reeling from the loss, Dan’s parents let them know that Dan left videos for them: he wants them to spread his ashes at very specific places all over the UK, with a video message for each of the stops. Dan hopes that it will give the two of them some time to think about their lives. Seph and Alex are little taken by Dan’s idea. But when Alex finds her girlfriend (Eleanor Matsuura) cheating, and Seph quits her job and finds her boyfriend James (Joe Dempsie) more and more clingy, the two decide to go on the road trip after all.

Burn Burn Burn is a debut feature and it feels very young at times, charming, but also a little naive. I enjoyed it for the most part, but I caught myself rather smiling at its ideas than being touched by them.

The film poster showing Seph (Laura Carmichael) standing on a car, trying to get cell reception) while Alex (Chloe Pirrie) is studying a paper map.

I don’t know if I can write this review without sounding like a condescending prick. In part, my reaction was condescending. Whenever the film tries to be particularly deep or insightful, I wanted to congratulate it, because its insights felt so commonplace for me. “Yes, dying people can be very angry, you’re right. Well done!” Plus, the roadtrip as a period of enlightenment made me want to smile beatifically, letting the young folks go make their experience with road trips. In reality, those experiences usually are: you sit in the car a lot, you see a lot of things, it’s fun and interesting, and then you go home, largely unchanged, to your life, also largely unchanged. But it’s nice to think that this trip would include some kind of epiphany.

I am not sure why the film brings out my insufferable side, but here we are. Insufferable or not, I did enjoy it, though. Seph and Alex are interesting characters and I really enjoyed seeing the two of them together, and the way the time spent together shifts their relationship, for better and worse. Carmichael and Pirrie do an excellent job and have really good chemistry with each other (so much so that I found Dan’s video presence rather irritating, as if it was an intrusion and not the catalyst for everything).

Seph (Laura Carmichael) and Alex (Chloe Pirrie) with shocked faces.

The film has a nice sense of humor, with Alice Lowe’s short appearance a particular highlight. But also the fact that they drive Dan’s ashes around in tupper ware, or that one of the most emotional moments in the film happen while Alex is strapped to a theater cross. It keeps the otherwise very heartfelt film that tries to say something very true from becoming dreary and self-important.

It’s an entertaining film overall, and I probably would have loved it if I had liked my reaction to it a little better. As is, I can say that I did like it a lot, but it is maybe too notably a debut feature with its growing pains.

Dan (Jack Farthing) giving Seph and Alex video instructions.

Summarizing: not a bad debut, definitely worth watching.

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