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nowhere special

★★★★★

starring: james norton, daniel lamont, eileen o'higgins, and stella mccusker

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

When John, a thirty-five-year-old window cleaner, is given only a few months to live, he attempts to find a new, perfect family for his three-year-old son, determined to shield him from the terrible reality of the situation.

James Norton, the ‘hot’ vicar from TV’s Granchester and the horrendous criminal Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley, has been one the main contenders rumoured to be in the running for the newly vacated and coveted 007 role. And while he has shown he can play a ‘goodie’ and a ‘baddie’ in previous work, his performance in Nowhere Special is a revelation and shows the range that he could bring to a complex character like Bond. A tear jerker that will leave you in a puddle of tears, Nowhere Special is a film of real depth and humanity, anchored by a career best performance from James Norton. One of the best films of 2022. 

John, a 35-year-old window cleaner, has dedicated his life to bringing up his 4-year-old son, Michael, after the child's mother left them soon after giving birth. When John is given only a few months left to live, he attempts to find a new, perfect family for Michael, determined to shield him from the terrible reality of the situation. Although initially certain of what he is looking for in the perfect family, John gradually abandons his early convictions, over- whelmed by doubts on the decision. How can he judge a family from a brief encounter? And does he know his own child well enough to make this choice for him? 

With a story of this nature, the temptation for director Uberto Pasolini would have been to stoop to pure sentimentality. But he shows incredible restraint, giving us a tale that is first and foremost observational in nature. The audience's experience is mirrored with that of the character of John, who observes the life he will miss with his son Michael through the lives of those he washes windows for. 

Pasolini gives enough time for us to sit with John’s anger and grief, the painstaking decision he has to make for Michael’s future, and the people, both the kind and not so kind, who he interacts with in his life. As a former window cleaner, the revenge that John takes on a snobby customer is particularly satisfying. Nowhere Special is a tremendous meditation on life, grief, and death that will make you laugh, smile, and have you sobbing - especially in the final scene. 

I can’t remember the last time I saw a child’s acting performance as wonderful as young Daniel Lamont as Michael. He is tremendous - completely natural and believable and the relationship that he obviously had with James Norton is superb. Norton gives his best performance to date in an extremely restrained and nuanced performance, communicating so much in a painstaking look or the rapturous joy he has in the presence of his son Michael.

Nowhere Special is a film of real depth and humanity, anchored by a career best performance from James Norton. One of the best films of 2022. 

★★★★★