Starter for Ten (12A)

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The Independent Culture

Adapted by David Nicholls from his own novel, Starter For Ten is the slight, lightweight story of Brian (James McAvoy), an eager Essex boy who goes to Bristol University in the mid-1980s. He joins the University Challenge team, and he has to choose between an ultra-posh, ultra-beautiful blonde (Alice Eve) and a coolly sarcastic, unglamorous, but actually-fairly-beautiful-herself brunette (Rebecca Hall). No points will be awarded for guessing which one he picks.

The film is too gentle to score a perfect 10, but its benign sweetness should win audiences over. McAvoy proves to be an appealing comedian, even if he looks more like a lecturer than an 18-year-old undergraduate. And the production designer, Sarah Greenwood, deserves bonus points for cluttering the film with bikes in the hallway, cans of food labelled with their owner's names, and all the rest of the student detritus which you never see in American college comedies.

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