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Stuart: A Life Backwards (DVD)

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Genre: Television / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: David Attwood / Actors: Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch ... / DVD released 2008-08-25 at Revelation Films Ltd / Features of the DVD: Dolby, PAL, Widescreen

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    2 Reviews
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      22.03.2013 20:26
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      A emotional story about one mans terrible life

      Stuart Shorter,who was born Stuart Clive Turner, he is a man who was born with Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy,which he inherited off his father,he was a homeless man from Camebridge who was known to be the first person to bring the Big Issue in to Cambridge town center.

      Stuart was sexually abused by his brother and also by a babysitter,after which he was sent to a care home where he was again subjected to sexual abuse this time at the hands of Keith Laverack,a infamous British pedophile who was eventually jailed in 1996.
      This terrible start in life lead to a life of turmoil and crime,as Stuart's past memories and pain led to him spending his life either in prison or living on the streets or in homeless hostels.
      This movie is made from a biography written by Alex Masters who met Stuart whilst helping in a homeless hostel,this pair went on to become very close friends and Alex decided that Stuart life was well worth writing a book about.

      In this movie Stuart is played by British actor Tom Hardy who was nominated for a Bafta on his acting in this film and he does do a wonderful job at bringing alcoholic and violent criminal,Stuart to life,Stuart has spent most of his life being brutalised in prison or cold out on the streets and mixed with his drug and drink problems,,this all makes for a middle aged man who hobbles rather than walks and who is cut off from normal society.

      On meeting Stuart,Alex is quite fascinated by him,I think he is interested in finding out what events had happend in Stuart's life which led to him living the way he did,and Alex sets about finding these answers by investigating Stuart's life, he not only asks hundreds of questions to Stuart himself but also asked questions to his family members and friends in a hope of finding answer's for his book.
      Nobody really tells the truth at first and Stuart's horrendous past is not brought to the surface in the beginning but as time goes on Stuart starts opening up a little more as he become's closer to Alex,and as the trust grows so does there relationship,as the pair become inseparable and very close friends.

      Alex is taken back by Stuart's personality as he realizes this man who people would see begging and would be considered a no good loser has a lot more to him than first meets the eye and in one scene Stuart gives his last fiver,which is his last bit of beer money for the night to Alex so he can get his bus home.
      There are many funny moments within this film and one scene which involves a bacon butty really had me laughing out loud but these funny moments are there to break up the seriousness,as this film is on a true story of a man who went through things no human being should be subjected to.

      Stuart's past you start to realize has had a massive effect on him and although most of the time he seems the happy go lucky drunk,who uses humour to make light of his terrible situation,as the film goes on you start to see through flash backs that Stuart has done some terribly violent things which is the reason why he has done so much jail time.
      There is a scene in this movie when Stuart looses his senses as his past demons come back to haunt him,as a naked and drunk Stuart tries to cut the devil out of himself,this scene is very shocking and a good way of showing you the true realities of being Stuart Shorter.
      Stuart is suicidal and has been all his adult life and even his close friendship with Alex can't stop his suicidal thoughts,leaving way for a very sad ending to a very sad story.

      Tom Hardy is amazing in this film,his acting skills are truly shown through out this film,he is simply brilliant and truly believable as he brings Stuart to life on the big screen,if you saw Tom pretending to be a drunk,alcoholic,smack head sat on the corner begging you would not doubt him for a minute,from his croaky voice to the way he carries himself,Tom truly puts in a amazing performance and one I am sure helped set him up for the bigger parts he was to eventually play in his acting career.

      I found this film to be fantastic and the fact it is from a completely true story makes it much more appealing to me,it truly shows the devastation and suffering abuse can have on somebodies life but the best thing for me was the complete realism this film portrays,from the acting to the story itself,it is all done with a down to earth charm which many people will easily relate too.
      Also the comedy inside this very serious movie is also outstanding as Stuart is quick witted and charming which I found really funny,but ultimately this is a very sad and very real tale which had quite a impact on me after watching, I would certainly recommend this movie.

      Benedict Cumberbatch - Alexander Masters
      Tom Hardy - Stuart Shorter
      Nicola Duffett - Judith
      Claire-Louise Cordwell - Karen
      Edna Doré - Gran
      Candis Nergaard - Sophie
      Joanna Maude - Ruth
      Trevor Sellers - John
      Barbara Barnes - Wintercomfort Secretary

      This review can also be found on Ciao under the name laurenthornton 123

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      29.01.2012 18:36
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      A true story, Stuart a life backwards was first published in 2005 after a 4 year friendship between journalist and author Alexander Masters and ex-homeless person Stuart Shorter. In 2007 it was made into a film for the BBC which was well received amongst critiques and the public itself. I couldn't say what made me want to watch this, it's a serious drama showing the past life of Stuart. A man with a history of drug and alcohol abuse whilst also being in and out of prison. Nevertheless I tuned in and have never regretted doing so.

      Alexander Masters (Benedict Cumberbatch) is leading a campaign to free the Cambridge Two. His boss and her deputy were arrested after drugs were found to be being dealt in the hostel that they ran. After a meeting is arranged which is open to all we are introduced to Stuart for the first time. As he helps with the campaign an unlikely friendship grows between the two which leads to the idea of a book about Stuart (Tom Hardy) being written. Backwards. And so begins the telling of his life and what happened for him to turn out the way he did.

      Stuart Shorter isn't your typical person to be fond of. Violent, hostage taker, thief and the rest. Yet there is something so endearing about him. Despite his faults he is polite and well mannered. Especially towards women. As he says himself, he has led a very controversial and unpleasant life. However he is incapable of blaming his misfortune on other people, even though in some cases he has good reason to do so.

      Alexander, oddly enough, does have similarities to Stuart. Middle class he isn't altogether interested in the homeless, strange for a man who works as a fundraiser at a homeless hostel. There is a bit of a snobbery about him but somehow Stuart manages to rid him of it. At times I felt that he pushes Stuart too far in getting to tell him about his past but maybe this helped so as to get the best results. There is a politeness about him and he does have a good deal of patience. Just as likeable as Stuart, put together this makes them a rather odd couple yet there is a deep understanding between the pair. As though they both regard the other in high esteem despite their different backgrounds.

      Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch play the roles remarkably well. They make the friendship come to life and appear utterly believable. Bringing small sparks of humour to the drama it hasn't been adapted by the screenplay to lighten the mood. These events all stay true to the book, making you smile at the little moments of enthusiasm that Stuart has for the smaller things in life. Had these tiny details been missed out the film would have been beyond depressing. But then, it's got a serious subject to tell. And in no way have the humorous aspects taken away any of the story.

      What with Benedict Cumberbatch becoming increasingly popular due to his role in Sherlock I've discovered that people are more interested in watching other programmes he has been in. To be expected really. This, in its own way, is a good thing because the more people are aware of Stuart Shorter the better. Bringing homelessness to the forefront, making others get some idea of what drives people to live on the streets. It not being one that anyone would choose to do, having no other option.

      Two songs fit the drama one is from the trailer called To Build a Home by Cinematic Orchestra and then from the film another called A Minor Incident by Badly Drawn Boy. Both are not the cheeriest of songs but they bring the right amount of emotion to the drama.

      Overall this is a difficult film to watch. However it is one that I will continually recommend to people. It's dark, contains nudity, strong language and violence (so may not be appropriate for younger viewers) but is a very moving piece. You'd have to be a cold person to not feel any emotion towards what's happening. If you're still unsure I'd suggest going to YouTube and watching some clips. As Alexander Masters states at the very beginning, it's a shame that Stuart didn't get to see/read it.

      Extras: Interviews with Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alexander Masters (worth watching) and two other directors. Plus a mini interview with a homeless man (Also worth taking a look at)

      Duration approx: 90 minutes
      Available on Amazon.

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