Review: ‘Fisherman’s Friends’ is music to my ears.

A fast living, cynical London music executive (Daniel Mays) heads to a remote Cornish village on a stag weekend where he’s pranked by his boss (Noel Clarke) into trying to sign a group of shanty singing fishermen (led by James Purefoy). He becomes the ultimate “fish out of water” as he struggles to gain the respect or enthusiasm of the unlikely boy band and their families (including Tuppence Middleton) who value friendship and community over fame and fortune. As he’s drawn deeper into the traditional way of life he’s forced to reevaluate his own integrity and ultimately question what success really means.

This film oozes with charm, from the storyline to the cast. Based on loyalty in more than one way, Fisherman’s Friends is uncompromisingly heartfelt. 10 fishermen who love to sing; they are crass and down-to-earth and it makes them all the more loveable. Their nonchalance helps make this a real rags-to-riches story. Watching a group of men represent a time and place that are the complete opposite of London’s modernized hustle and bustle is essential for understanding why Danny makes the decisions he does as the film progresses. The idea of family and tradition play heavily and to the film’s ultimate success. The music is both uplifting and haunting. Sea shanties, some you will recognize and others that will be altogether new to your ears, envelope the viewer. I adored just how many numbers were performed during the film.

The cast is just lovely. Truly an ensemble piece when it comes down to it, each actor is integral in telling this unique story. They are protective of each other, telling the history of the town and its residents through song, stories, and a pint. James Purefoy nails the rough around the edges, unofficial leader of the group. You fully buy his gruff yet protective nature. Daniel Mays as Danny strikes a perfect balance of genuine gentleman and hustler. Tuppence Middleton as Alwyn is a joy to watch. The chemistry between each member of this cast is superb. You’d think they weren’t actually actors at all, especially knowing the Fisherman’s Friends is a true story. Director Chris Foggins has given us a real gem of a film in a time we all need reminding how beautiful staying put can be. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the sounds of the ocean and some melodic voices that are sure to capture your heart.

On Demand and Digital July 24, 2020

FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS is directed by Chris Foggin (Kids in Love) and co-written by Meg Leonard (Blithe Spirit, Finding Your Feet) and Nick Moorcroft (Blithe Spirit, Finding Your Feet).  The film stars Daniel Mays (1917, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), James Purefoy (“The Following,” “Rome”), David Hayman (Blinded by the Light, Sid and Nancy) and Tuppence Middleton (“Sense8,” The Imitation Game).

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.