Developed from an idea of Cattaneo into a script by Ronan Bennett, "Lucky Break," however, has a strong enough personality not to be merely a reworking of "Monty," despite certain similarities.
Jimmy has been urged to sign up for an anger management course conducted by the head of the prison support unit, Annabel (Olivia Williams), and it's clear romance is afoot. In the meantime, he's got lots of changes to go through, and there's a plot, which won't be revealed here.
Despite its easy charm, "Lucky Break" doesn't forget that it is set in a prison. The downside of Mortimer's preoccupation with the musical is the obtuseness of a hateful chief guard (Ron Cook); when he is caught in an embarrassing moment by Jimmy's cellmate Cliff (Timothy Spall), there's hell to pay."Nelson the Musical" is amusing, a cheery travesty that boasts a traditional yet appealing love song by Nesbitt and Williams. It strikes just the right note between the amateur and the wistful: Its book and lyrics were written by the estimable Stephen Fry, marvelous actor and wit.
Nesbitt makes a fine leading man, and Plummer misses none of the amusing nuances of Mortimer, so enchanted by his own creation's being brought to a somewhat ragged but vigorous life. Williams and others in key support are also effective. Lightly reflective and consistently entertaining, "Lucky Break" is an easy-to-take diversion.
MPAA rating: PG-13, for brief strong language and some sexual references. Times guidelines. suitable for mature older children.
James Nesbitt...Jimmy Hands
Christopher Plummer...Graham Mortimer
Lennie James...Rudy Guscott
Timothy Spall...Cliff Gumbell
A Paramount Pictures, Miramax Films and Filmfour presentation in association with Senator Film of a Fragile Films-Lucky Break production for Filmfour. Director Peter Cattaneo. Producers Barnaby Thompson and Cattaneo. Executive producers Paul Webster and Hanno Huth. Screenplay by Ronan Bennett. Cinematographer Alwin Kuchler. Editor David Gamble. "Nelson the Musical" book and lyrics by Stephen Fry. Choreographer Nicky Hinkley. Costumes Ffion Elinor. Production designer Max Gottlieb. Art director Andrew Munro. Set decorator Neesh Ruben. Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes.
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