Cheeky

Year: 2003
David's Character: Harry Sankey
Director(s): David Thewlis
Other Stars: Sean Ward, Leslie Sharp & Trudie Styler
Pictures: Click here
Screen time: Lead role

David wrote and directed this film!

Consumed with sadness after the death of his wife and subsequent rejection from his son, a widower, at the urging of his friends, opts to appear on a vulgar, wildly popular game show (for which his wife signed him up) and watches his life start to change for the better.

Harry Sankey unknowingly signs up to participate in a game show by his beloved late wife who recently died in a tragic house fire. Harry is tapped by producers of the game show 'Cheeky' (which combines trivia questions with an insult-off where contestants try to be the cheekiest) to appear on the program. Hesitant at first, and still struggling to reconnect with his equally grief-stricken son while coping with his own sadness, Harry reluctantly agrees.

The story follows Harry through various emotional transitions as he deals with his loss via what might be considered his wife's last wish. He moves from the dark and shattered world of his wife's passing to the (literally) technicolor madness of a loopy television show. Along the way, he meets Nancy, who shares his late wife's name and provides a blissfully ignorant counterbalance to his sombre outlook. She doesn't know his history, so his baggage isn't addressed with her.

Smartly written and terrifically acted, "Cheeky" is an examination of coping mechanisms in the face of tragedy, combined with a warm-hearted and, at times, riotously silly take on life. The actors skillfully move back and forth between making the audience want to cry and making them want to laugh out loud. Emotions seep through in small moments, happy or sad, so it never feels manufactured and I never once thought, "Okay, that? clearly intended to wring out my tears."

Thewlis builds a wonderful community of quirky characters, from the over-the-top game-show host to Nancy's kooky (and LOUD!) best friend, and creates a comforting (if unconventional) family to surround the main players. The performances are solid, the story is sweetly moving and the film is a colorful little gem.

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