Instead of being about a superhero, it is about a terminally ill young man in Ireland, who possesses a great gift for drawing and a quite understandably dark view of life. Donald (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) is the young man and he manages to keep us all at a distance, but without our disliking him. He has cancer, and his prognosis is poor. Rather than spinning this into a stoic and brave young man fighting against all odds to overcome great adversity, it instead presents us with a far more real and gritty view of the reality of the situation. But if it was just that, it would have no life to it. And life is one thing this one has.
Anthony McCarten has written the screenplay, based on his own novel. Along with the direction of Ian Fitzgibbon, and outstanding performances from Brodie-Sangster and Andy Serkis, as the psychiatrist, the final product rings pitch-perfect.
There are no holes anywhere to be found here. In addition to all of the accolades I have already tossed, the look of "Death of a Superhero", especially its seamless blending of animation and live action, is also ultra fine. Toss in a sweet soundtrack and I am left in the position of being unable to find a single thing to complain about.
I find it difficult to believe that there will be anything better at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, although admittedly I still have many that I have yet to see. It doesn't matter, because when it comes time to compile my top ten list of 2012, rest assured that "Death of a Superhero" will be on that list, which means it should be a must-see on your list.
Random House has also just published McCarten’s critically-acclaimed sequel to A Death of a Superhero. Called In the Absence of Heroes, McCarten revisits the Delpe family, lost in their grief a year after Donny’s death. McCarten continues to explore how we live our increasingly complex modern lives and, most specifically, the impact of the internet and fantasy gaming on the breakdown of family relationships.
McCarten will appear at three Auckland Writers &Readers Festival events (www.writersfestival.co.nz), including the ‘Schools’ Programme’.