Burn Burn Burn – set to screen in Australia as part of the BBC First British Film Festival – is the feature film debut from director Chanya Button and surprised me as a standout film of the “road trip” genre. Even if it did take a little long to get there, it’s the journey that counts more than the destination.
Following the death of their friend, two girls in their late twenties, Alex (Chloe Pirrie, Brief Encounters) and Seph (Laura Carmichael, Downton Abbey), embark on a road trip to spread his ashes. Seph and Alex take turns driving after they’re given specific instructions to lay his ashes in four completely different locations while watching his instructions on a laptop in each. During the trip they grow closer as friends and realise the lives they are living really aren’t the ones they want.
Usually for me, I either love or hate the characters of a film straight from the start, but with this film I couldn’t decide. It wasn’t the acting or Buttons’ direction that was lacking here, however. All the pieces seemed to fit and every single scene that had the now-deceased friend Dan (Jack Farthing) were brilliantly played and cast. It just took the film to reach its half way point before it finally hit its stride. Perhaps some of this fault lies in the script from Charlie Covell (Fantastic Fear of Everything).
The issue was in the film’s character development; at first, they were so separately entwined in their own well-being and personal stories, it made the road adventure a difficult one to connect with. The film’s sombre humour also is hit-and-miss; when it rears its head it feels almost unwelcome in its tone and pacing alongside the film’s more serious context.
But at its peak, Burn Burn Burn succeeds where a lot of this genre stumbles. The ending is truly heart-wrenching; any movie where a young person still in their twenties is dying of disease is always going to be hard to watch. And by the closing credits, I cared deeply for all three of the main characters deeply. It’s a journey to reach that point as a viewer though; I wish I had cared more from the start.
Maybe this was the point of it all though? Showing you that life can throw complete strangers at your door and you find out more about yourself with them than you would from someone you have known your entire life. Placed in this context, I rate the film in a higher regard and ultimately the film sits as a unique and enjoyable experience in a crowded genre.
Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Burn Burn Burn will screen as part of the BBC First British Film Festival around the country, which runs until 23rd November. For tickets and more details, head to the official website.