Burn, Burn, Burn

Posted by Milk Bar Mag on 27/10/16

Burn, Burn, Burn is a heartwarming and touching comedy about two young women named Seph and Alex who embark on a road trip in order to fulfill their deceased best friend Dan’s wishes. The film is distinctive in its comical approach on death, particularly in its opening scene that consists of Seph driving, with Alex sitting in the passenger seat holding the container with Dan’s ashes in it. Both women are playing a ‘guess who I am’ game, and Alex is supposed to be guessing who Seph is. She quickly guesses Seph to be describing Dan, and then Seph throws the funny line of ‘too soon?’ and then the camera depicts a close-up of the ash-filled container labeled with Dan’s name on it.

The play on death is consistent throughout the film and is reflective of typical British humour, but it doesn’t come across as insensitive due to its overall purpose, which is to enhance the idea of treasuring every moment and living your life to the fullest. Dan is depicted as an animated guy with a wacky sense of humour who loved to party it up, but he also had a dark side that he had kept hidden from everybody: he had been battling his pancreatic cancer, and it eventually robbed him of his life. Before he passed away, however, he created a video for Seph and Alex requesting them to spread his ashes in four of his chosen destinations: London, Stonehenge, Cardiff and York.

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Each of these locations plays a significant role in shaping Dan’s sentimental experiences, and we also witness how his past experiences influences the progression of the two female protagonists, as they expose themselves to uncharted territory and make unsettling discoveries about him and each other.

At the beginning of the film, both Seph and Alex are inflicted with their own demons: Seph conflicts with her boss at work and eventually gets fired from her nanny job, and Alex catches her girlfriend Pandora cheating on her with another woman.

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Both of these incidents happen right after Dan’s funeral, which further heightens Seph and Alex’s grief and inner turmoil, and they decide to escape it all by going on the road trip. Each destination is accompanied by one of Dan’s videos, which describes his connection to the place and his most treasured memories of it. Each video also depicts Dan’s deterioration from his terminal illness, and his insights become darker and more in-depth as Seph and Alex progress through them. He quotes in one of his videos: “I thought I was going to be good at dying, like really good. Like they’d project me at TED talks and I’d be appreciated after my time, but no, turns out I don’t want to die. I love being alive, much more than you two…” and then begins to reproach Seph and Alex individually on what he really thinks of them.

As they travel through each location, the two protagonists meet a drunk hippie, go to one of Dan’s memorable key spots: Livid Nightclub, and hit some more interesting and comical ruts on the road. Their individual dramas also pan out throughout the film: there’s Seph’s indecision regarding her relationship with James, a sweet but boring guy that she has left back at home. He continuously tries to get in contact with her, but she doesn’t have enough willpower to get back to him until later on throughout the film. There’s also Alex’ evasion of Pandora’s calls, her overwhelming need to distance herself from her family and a big secret regarding her past that Dan hints towards in one of his videos since he wants Seph to support her through it. This causes conflict between the two girls, as Alex evades Seph’s attempts to uncover this secret that eats away at her heart.

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Burn Burn Burn is a wonderfully composed film about friendship, death and how important it is to live in the moment. Dan sums it all up when he states a quote from Jack Kerouac: “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

Burn, Burn, Burn 
Screenings for the British International Film Festival will be from Wednesday October 26 – Wednesday November 16
britishfilmfestival.com.au/films/burn-burn-burn

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