Sixty Six Comes of Age Jewish in 1960s England
Aside from the occasional Yiddish-spewing East End gangster, Anglo-Jewish life has evolved largely off the radar of British national cinema. That's all changing in the new multiculti England, and while we wait for Mike Leigh to get off his duff and show us how he grew up, Paul Weiland's genially autobiographical comedy of 1960s suburban Jewish manners will do nicely. Bernie (a very good Gregg Sulkin) is a well-behaved suburban nerd cast down by the news that his bar mitzvah, which he'd hoped would finally bring him his long-awaited moment in the sun, coincides with the World Cup final, when all the potential guests will be staying at home and rooting for England. You can guess what follows by way of lessons in manhood, and you'd be right, but Sixty Six is brightened by a terrific cast, including Eddie Marsan as Bernie's timid dad, the hilarious Catherine Tate as his culinarily challenged aunt, and (given that she's about as Jewish as the queen) a surprisingly terrific Helena Bonham Carter in full floral folly as Bernie's loving mum. The paw print of Weiland's friend and co–executive producer, Richard Curtis—who wrote both Bridget Jones films and the original treatment here—is stamped all over this chipper movie, which properly belongs on television. But you don't have to be Jewish to appreciate its genuine fondness for the claustrophobic warmth of family life among working-class people apprehensively inching their way toward upward mobility.
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