A bleak work of unrelenting despair that, despite a slightly over-the-top final act, is reminiscent of the Golden Age of British film slice-of-life presentations.
This film review of Give Them Wings does not contain spoilers.
Sean Cronin directs this kitchen sink drama based on the true story of meningitis sufferer Paul Hodgson and is an unflinching and bleak slice of British filmmaking that is often hard to watch in its honest portrayal of the suffering of Paul’s life.
The film stars newcomer Daniel Watson as Paul Hodgson, a rising star who took the Best Actor Award at ‘The Richard Harris International Film Festival for his performance as disabled Paul Hodgson. GIVE THEM WINGS also co-stars music legend Toyah Willcox (Quadrophenia, The Tempest) and Bill Fellows (Broadchurch, Downton Abbey).
Give Them Wings is directed by actor Sean Cronin, a well-known face, often playing villains in franchises such as James Bond and Mission: Impossible. He has also directed human interest stories like the WW1 movie Eleven and An Unfortunate Woman. This film is an adaptation Hogson’s award-winning autobiography Flipper’s Side.
The film, set in 1989, tells the story of Paul’s heart-breaking journey to acceptance and follows in the footsteps of films such as My Left Foot and Billy Elliot. The late 80s setting is worth noting, as some scenes are particularly upsetting and may upset some viewers.
Sean Cronin said, “Give Them Wings is a hugely important film that tackles discrimination of the disabled and turns it on its head, a film that teaches mankind that we must accept people for ‘who they are’ and not what they ‘appear to be’. I was hugely honored to have been chosen to bring Paul’s incredible story to the big screen”.
The film itself is often a very bleak piece of work, and for some, the unrelenting despair of the cast may make this a difficult watch.
Paul goes through the most traumatic of events over the run time ofthe film, and Daniel Watson gives a fascinating performance. The rest of the cast also rise to the occasion, and as a fan of her earlier career, it was also wonderful to see Toyah Wilcox back on the screen.
Cronin directs the production with a steady hand, and this has all the right aesthetics for the material. Perhaps a few more flairs could have helped with the Play For Today style of presentation, but overall this is a strong offering.
If you remember the golden age of British film slice-of-life presentations, then you will find a lot to enjoy here. I wonder if a more international audience will be completely on board, it is a very British production and that is reflected in the very DNA of the movie, and the final act does feel slightly over the top and tonally at odds with the previous two acts, but if you are invested enough, then you will probably run with it.