Heartwarming and charming, Dusty and Me is a sweet film following the life of Derek ‘Dusty’ Springfield (Luke Newberry) the summer after he leaves public school and is awaiting his Oxbridge results. Set in Yorkshire in 1977, the film, directed by award-winning Betsan Evans Morris, deliberates on themes of love, class and family, with the misfit Dusty befriending a speedy greyhound who changes his life forever. Despite the tale’s simplicity, it is an enjoyable watch for a relaxing night-in.
“The 1970s scene has been absolutely perfected”
From the start, it is clear that a lot of time and effort has been put into the setting and costumes for the film. The 1970s scene has been absolutely perfected and the soundtrack is especially notable: I felt as though I had been transported back to that era and was fully accustomed to it by the end. This was helped by the actors, who pulled off the small town attitudes and behaviour, looking like they fully belong.
The cast is wonderful and aptly chosen with stars such as Ian Hart, who played Professor Quirrell in Harry Potter, and Ian Glen, from Game of Thrones, living up to their reputations and being seen in a completely new light. Luke Newberry, as the protagonist Derek, embodies the nerdy misfit, portraying the awkwardness of the teenage years, along with the unwavering loyalty and powerful emotions of the character. By the end of the film, I felt a certain pride in Derek, Newberry successfully creating such a likeable boy.
One actor that particularly stood out was Lesley Sharp. Taking on the role of Derek’s mother and lousy Big Eddie (Ian Hart)’s wife, she was thoroughly convincing. From the loving but slightly ditsy woman to the strong and protective mother, Sharp leads from the front and gives a memorable performance.
The film itself reminded me of some of my childhood favourites. A bit of a crossover between Racing Stripes and 101 Dalmatians, Dusty and Me contained some of the same elements as these tales, with the stock villains, endearing animals and the seemingly impossible aspirations of the main characters. In this way, it has a pretty predictable and simple plotline; I didn’t find myself glued to the screen and wouldn’t pay a lot of money to see it in a cinema. However, the skills of the actors and the filming of the scenes brought the basic story to life, and the pop-up postcard animations of absent characters and inclusion of thought-tracks was clever and did make it stand out a bit from the rest of the genre.
“There are some extremely witty one-liners”
One thing Dusty and Me did do was make me laugh. There are some extremely witty one-liners and comical moments which I was not expecting, helping to develop the relationships between the characters and adding to the feel-good nature of the film. The humour brings out the realism of the family setting and makes it an easy-going, delightful watch.
Despite its shortcomings, Dusty and Me is certainly an enjoyable film. The talent of the cast and perfection of the 1970s setting stuck with me once it was over, and its focus on treasuring family and neighbours even when it’s hard teaches a valuable lesson. A light-hearted and funny independent film for a Sunday afternoon.
Dusty and Me will be released in selected UK cinemas from 28th September and on VoD from 1st October.
Featured Image courtesy of Keep Your Trap Shut and Goldfinch Studios via IMDb.