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Film / Third Star

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It's all downhill from here on.

Third Star is a 2011 British film starring Benedict Cumberbatch, J.J. Feild, Tom Burke, Adam Robertson and Hugh Bonneville. It tells the story of James, a young man who has terminal cancer and less than a year to live. On his 29th birthday, he and his friends set out for one last trek to Barafundle Bay, James's favourite place on Earth.

Provides examples of:

  • A Friend in Need: The ultimate dilemma at the climax of the film tests this amongst the friends.
  • Against the Setting Sun: The cast are seen walking along the clifftop against the setting sun after choosing to continue after a disaster.
  • Always Second Best: seems to be the crux of Davy's insecurity, could also be viewed as The Un Favourite.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • James has this to a certain degree - he's more than capable of quite vicious outbursts.
    • This probably applies more literally to Davy, who is prone to explosive tantrums despite being the gentlest and most caring character. See also elements of Dude, Where's My Respect?.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Miles. Nearly everything that ever comes out of his mouth.
    • His opening words to his dying best friend: "Well, you look like shit. I thought they'd stuck you out here 'cause you'd snuffed it."
    • "I thought the Life/Tea-making metaphor was good, but that was... exquisite."
  • Epilogue Letter: Narrated by James.
  • Face Death with Dignity: James would rather drown himself than die from cancer, in pain.
  • Feather Motif: Feathers appear several times within the film - falling from the air, offered as gifts and seen in the grass. There is also an appearance by a character wearing angel wings.
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  • Friendly Rivalry: James and Miles' writing.
  • Friendship Moment: The film is jam-packed with these, such as:
    • James's talk with Davy, while tucked up in the tent, about why he allowed James to talk to him so cruelly but did not object in front of the others - "Loyalty, you prick."
    • Miles ruffling Bill's hair and making him laugh after he breaks down and throws the tree into the sea.
    • Davy embracing Miles after James has drowned in the bay, although their relationship throughout the film is more like Vitriolic Best Buds.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: Visibly sung at James's birthday party, although the singing is silent and overlaid with music and a voiceover.
  • Headbutt of Love: a version of this takes place between Davy and James in the tent at Barafundle Bay, while James is wracked with pain, before the others recover the morphine.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Subverted in the sense that the 'subtext' is perpetually Lampshaded by jokes and particularly jibes from Miles about Davy's supposed 'true feelings' or motivations toward James, creating something like a Friend Versus Lover dynamic, although there is no confirmation of any romantic relationship between any of the characters.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: The fundamental substance of the activity in the film.
  • In Harmony with Nature: Bill seems to aspire to be this way and wishes to impress his behaviour on the others, hiding their spare clothes.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: James utters this line almost exactly at one stage.
  • Intro-Only Point of View: The film is bookended with narration from James, although the majority of the film is told from an omnipotent perspective with focus on the ensemble, and each character shown in isolation at various points.
  • Jade-Coloured Glasses: Worn resolutely by Miles, instigated by the loss of his father at a young age.
  • Miles to Go Before I Sleep: The film falls into this in its latter parts, as James's determination to reach Barafundle Bay is met with serious setbacks.
  • Mood Whiplash: The film is described as a 'comedy-drama', and it begins out this way. The comedy does not remain.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Bill's galloping naked into the water.
  • Nice Guy: Davy, who is described by the film's writer, Vaughan Sivell, as the one 'we would all one of our best friends.'
  • Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death: The exact conditions when James swims out to sea.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The beachcomber. Every moment.
  • Precision F-Strike: variations on the word 'fuck' are used several times throughout the film, although one or two stand out -
    • Davy declaring, "Oh, this is unFUCKINGbelievable!" after the incident with the cart.
    • James muttering an exasperated, "Fuck" when informed that he is walking in the wrong direction.
  • Sleep Cute: an ensemble effort when the four are shown bedding down and cuddling together, also falling under a parody of There Is Only One Tent.
  • Stay with Me Until I Die: James tells Miles that he would 'rather not be alone'.
  • The Caretaker: Davy, who is noted to have been helping take care of James since being made redundant ( the script later informs that he had in fact secretly left his job to do so) is seen taking responsibility for his medication and welfare throughout the film.
  • The Heart: Bill, whose peaceable nature usually sees him mediating and placating the others. Also portrays the gentle spirituality of The Chick.

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