Burn Burn Burn
Rather Good Films, 2015
Charlie Covell and Chanya Button
📷 : Pixabay
Movies and TV shows with heavy subjects
Road trips are the truest test of friendships. Spending an hour or two with a friend who has their flaws requires much less patience than being trapped in a vehicle with them for several days. This reality may be what makes these films so interesting, as many of us are familiar with the commitment that is spending this amount of time in proximity to a non-family member. The trip starts out with fun, noise and optimism and becomes a battle of attrition. In the end, you must figure out if you love this person’s virtues more than you hate their vices. As a road trip buddy comedy, Burn Burn Burn puts this struggle between its co-leads on display.
Directed by Chanya Button, Burn Burn Burn puts two best friends in a car together to travel through England, spreading their deceased friend’s ashes in various landmarks at his request. Similar to other movies of this sub-genre, the road trip itself occurs amidst a period of transition and stress for both the main characters, Alex (Chloe Pirrie, Downton Abbey) and Seph (Laura Carmichael, The Queen’s Gambit). Alex catches her girlfriend in a compromising position while Seph questions her feelings for her long-term boyfriend. Both are on shaky ground in their professional lives as well due to their lack of focus. And most importantly, they each juggle their worrisome romantic situations with their grief for the inciting incident of the story: their young friend Dan (Jack Farthing, Poldark) succumbing to pancreatic cancer.
Unlike many road trip movies that are driven (no pun intended) by the desire of the main characters to “shake things up,” Alex and Seph’s goal is to fulfill Dan’s last wish of having his ashes spread across England. He leaves them a series of webcam videos discussing what all the locations mean to him and even addressing his complicated friendships with each of them.
Burn Burn Burn pulls off very well what many films struggle to do, which is to make a deceased character feel like they are still in the story. Dan is not only responsible for all of the film’s action but much of its conflict as well. In airing out his grievances, he exposes issues that Alex and Seph have with one another. Seph considers Alex to be stiff as a board while Alex believes Seph to be selfish and flaky. Of course, their increased time around each other exposes these differences and begs the ultimate question: do these two really like each other? Or are they simply staying friends because it feels like they are supposed to?
For anyone past the early stages of their adulthood, Burn Burn Burn hints at a subtle reality that can be tough to grasp: the older you get, the harder it is to make new friends. We hold on tight to the people that we have known the longest and enjoy being around the most. Alex and Seph not only lose someone who fits that description but now, in the midst of troubling times for each of them, must examine one another’s flaws more closely. It is a drawback to embarking on a road trip that is often only realized in the middle of the journey. Sometimes our closest friends are very different from us, and we may even keep them close because we take solace in observing their issues over addressing our own.
In this way, Burn Burn Burn feels very much like the early 2000s buddy road-trip comedy Sideways, a film considered by many at the time as one of the best in its genre. Miles and Jack clearly enjoy each other’s company but are nothing alike, and the impact of their stark differences grows from a crevice to a gorge over the course of one week together. The viewer feels the same animosity develop between Alex and Seph, and as many of us do in real life, we must decide once the cat’s out of the bag whether we remain friends.
If you enjoy films about two aging friends questioning their bond and ultimately working through their issues, Burn Burn Burn offers a few laughs, a tear or two, and some tough questions sure to infiltrate your own social circle.