Film of the week: The Goob (Myhill, 2014)
“Have a good life son, if you can get out of this shithole,” says the bus driver in the opening scene of The Goob, as 16 year old Goob Taylor steps off the school bus for the final time and into adulthood. From the outset, we are presented with Goob’s situation and what follows is a poignant coming-of-age tale of life on the east coast. Goob, portrayed by Liam Walpole, lives with his brother Rod and his mother and her domineering partner, Gene, above their family-run diner. As Goob realises his dream of wanting to escape “this shithole”, he also battles for his mother’s attention from Gene, who has Goob’s life laid out for him.
Although set in rural Norfolk, with its wide open landscapes and big skies, The Goob could just as easily be set in the Australian outback or the American plains. The film features Sean Harris, Sienna Guillory and S Club 7s, Hannah Spearritt. Having grown up on the east coast, they all perfect the local dialect which is one of the more challenging regional dialects, which also adds to the characters’ backgrounds and their first-hand knowledge of the region.
Goob, having left school, spends his days involuntarily working as a fruit picker overseen by Gene, who observes the fruit pickers from afar. His evenings are spent at the stock car race tracks with his mother, where they observe Gene as he races round the tracks. The stock car scene is omnipresent throughout the film and served as the initial inspiration behind Guy Myhill’s impressive debut feature. As Gene races around the track, it is apparent that these very tracks represent Gene’s inability to leave the environment and life in which he inhabits.
Although stuck in this same loop as Gene, Goob experiences a new sense of freedom through Eva who picks fruit alongside him. Eva, who has come from abroad to pick fruit, introduces Goob to her friends and brings him out of his shell. His life then ultimately takes a new turn and he starts to find meaning in his otherwise meaningless existence. In one scene, Eva cuts herself while fruit picking. Goob immediately comforts her and tenderly uses his shirt to wrap the wound. This is of course interrupted by Gene, who asserts his dominance by taking over the situation in a vile attempt to flirt with Eva. There are moments throughout the film such as this scene, which reveal Goob’s true nature. Goob is expected to act in such a way and in a sense, Gene is disappointed in Goob’s behaviour as he rebels against the toxic masculine environment in which he refuses to be a product of. In another intimate scene we see Goob’s mother reassure Goob that he is “her boy”. Despite this, Goob is ultimately aware that this continued loop will soon be his own reality if he does not escape from it.
Depicting the stock car scene and life in rural Norfolk, The Goob is an underrated British gem that is reminiscent of British New Wave cinema and offers an alternative perspective of coming-of-age in contemporary Britain.