Film Review: 'Fishermen's Friends'

MWC’s first ever five-person team day took us to the cinema to see a feel-good fishing film, and boy did we feel good! Jacob writes our film review (yes, we do film reviews now) in our latest blog post.

At Mindfully Wired, we believe there are two things (among many, of course) that make us special. The first is our strong tight-knit team of like-minded people, all with a genuine enthusiasm for their work. The second is our focus on properly understanding the people we aim to help, notably the fishermen that sustainably land our catch. So what better way to build team bonding than by sitting in silence for two hours watching a heavily dramatised film centred around a Cornish fishing village?

Is it even a team-day if you don’t do an escalator selfie in the cinema? (Work calls still a priority)

Is it even a team-day if you don’t do an escalator selfie in the cinema? (Work calls still a priority)

‘Fishermen’s Friends’ is based on the true story of a group of Port Isaac fishermen’s rise to musical fame. Their songs are traditional sea shanties, a far cry from the normal stuff on the UK Top Ten, but they struck a chord with a London music executive who stumbled across the group whilst on a stag-do. From there, despite opposition from shallow London types, cynical producers and a scheming property mogul (according to the film, anyway), they grew in popularity to become a national sensation.

Reservoir sea dogs.gif

So how does this translate into film? The producers had a few elements working in their favour. Firstly, the stunning landscape of the Cornish coast, not to mention the quaint village of Port Isaac. Secondly, a host of winning personalities that had already won favour with the British public, brought to the big screen by a likeable cast. And thirdly, a genuinely uplifting story with a cracking soundtrack essentially ready-made – and with room round the edges to squeeze in a few sizeable dollops of romance, heartache and humour.

The film itself was brimming with tropes, clichés and awful puns (‘reservoir sea dogs’ and ‘the fishermen are a real catch’, to name a couple), but that somehow added to its appeal. It had all the right ingredients for your typical heart-warming story – the bumbling-but-winsome protagonist, the initially-resistant-but-ultimately-available love interest, and her flinty-exterior-but-heart-of-gold father – but that wasn’t really the main focus. It was the fishermen and their hearty vocals that stole the show, and quite rightly so.

A trip to the cinema calls for pick-n-mix… From left: Jacob (MWC Intern), Sara (Policy Projects Manager), Noa (Communications Officer), and Katrina (Director). 📷: Harriet (Project Manager).

A trip to the cinema calls for pick-n-mix… From left: Jacob (MWC Intern), Sara (Policy Projects Manager), Noa (Communications Officer), and Katrina (Director). 📷: Harriet (Project Manager).

And was it a fair depiction of Cornish fishing life? There were admittedly a few bits where artistic licence took over. Half a dozen fishermen crammed onto a tiny boat seemed a particularly inefficient way to fish; not a single dead fish is seen throughout the film; and at one point a villainous coastguard turns up to make things difficult for apparently no reason. But did it capture tradition, the coastal way of life, the sense of community? Well, it wasn’t far off.

Was it objectively a fairly bad film? Yes. Did we enjoy it? Absolutely. It is a fine new entry into the ‘feel-good’ genre – invariably ‘based on a true story’ – that, whilst having little real substance, plot or character development, nonetheless leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. And sometimes that’s all you want from a movie.