Director: Jono McLeod | Time to play: 104 minutes | Year: 2022
In the early 1990s, a high school class in an upscale Scottish neighborhood welcomes a new student named Brandon Lee. Like Bruce Lee’s son, who had died shortly before on a film set. Brandon is a separate figure. At first he makes few connections, but over time he becomes one of the most popular students. But something seems to be wrong.
It soon becomes predictable what that is. However, it takes a long time before the truth is told. The first half is made up mostly of now-adult classmates recounting how Brandon was received, how strangely he behaved, and how he ultimately became loved.
All very well, but this is going to last a long time. Especially when it turns out that the not-so-unexpected twist is highly unusual, but not so epic that it was worth the long haul. The second half of the documentary delves into the psyche of Brandon Lee, who he was and why he did what he did. Since it is nothing more than a playful action, there is not much to take advantage of it.
However, it is a special story. It is told in a fun and light-hearted way. The life in the Scottish school passes in the form of animation, since at that time there was no camera in the classroom. A technique increasingly used in documentaries.
And Alan Cumming is there! Brandon Lee himself wanted to tell the story of himself, but he didn’t want to be on screen. So, Cumming was hired to be the face, imitating all the words that Lee previously recorded. Nice that it lends itself to that, but also appropriate: a movie would be made about it one day until Brandon Lee withdrew permission from him, but not before Alan Cumming had already been cast to play him.
Somewhere is also a bit classmates. That was a TV show where every episode a Dutch acquaintance was invited to chat with his old elementary class about the past. Also in my old school is the word for those who roomed with Brandon Lee at the time. Lots of memories and laughter that happily but slowly tell the story.
Brandon Lee himself gives an explanation of what motivated him to do what he did. But when others contribute, it turns out that it is not a reliable source. In some ways that’s sad, but on the other hand it means the attention burned by this monkey sandwich greaser is being rekindled.
It could easily have been told in an hour, and it’s just a true tale. Still, it is such a rare and exceptional event that it is impossible not to hide it. This could also have been a documentary that could have shared everything very serious and with sinister background music, spread over a minimum of three episodes. A smart choice to limit yourself to a movie, with a cheerful tone.
But it remains a mystery that Brandon Lee’s classmates ever fell for his ruse. Especially if at the end of the movie you can see footage of the real person. Adult versions of him don’t understand that either, but the devilry is done.
my old school can be seen in Home NPO.