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Death of a Superhero

Death of a Superhero

Released 30 November 2012
Director Ian Fitzgibbon

Andy Serkis, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aisling Loftus, Michael McElhatton, Jessica Schwarz, Sharon Horgan, Ned Dennehy
Writer(s) Anthony McCarten

Michael Garland, Astrid Kahmke, Philipp Kreuzer
Origin Germany, Ireland
Running Time 97 minutes
Genre Animation, drama
Rating 15A

Living life to its fullest.

Much to my surprise, in recent times I have become increasingly impressed with Irish cinema. Not that it was poor before but it definitely wasn't as consistent as it is now. More importantly, this has encompassed a variety of different genres with the likes of The Guard, Stitches and What Richard Did, to name just three, all being successful in their own right. Now another one can be added to the growing list with the German/Irish made Death of a Superhero – and there could very easily be arguments given for this being the best of the bunch.

Set in Dublin, the film centres around fifteen year-old Donald who has developed a terminal cancer. Struggling to accept his ultimately fatal outcome, Donald, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster, can't communicate with his parents but finds solace in a new psychiatrist who specialises in people who have death on their doorstep. A brilliant artist, the young boy's life is intertwined with that of his comic book superhero and, while his friends attempt to find him a girl to have sex with before his time is up, Donald is on the cusp of finding love for the first time.

It is difficult to know exactly where to start when assessing this movie as there are so many beautifully crafted sub-plots to the overall theme of death and acceptance. The supplementary world of Donald's art is obviously integral to the story, which was originally a New Zealand novel written by Anthony McCarten, but it is even more important to the motion picture because it adds a sense of authenticity, originality and, somewhat ironically, humanity, to something that is often overplayed on screen.

Brodie-Sangster is excellent as the troubled teenager who isn't afraid of life or death but is clearly angry at it, at least until the introduction of his love interest Shelly, played by Aisling Loftus. They don't have too many scenes together but when they do their chemistry is innocently genuine. Another win for both the film and Ireland is the use of Dublin as the backdrop – from the bustling lights of the city centre to the calm and beauty of the DART line hugging the coast of the Irish sea.

With any good drama, your emotions should be toyed with and there is a clever balance of sadness, joy, anger, remorse and even comedy. Death of a Superhero is one of the best films of the year.

- David Caulfield