By Don Simpson | April 26, 2012
Director: Ian Fitzgibbon
Writer: Anthony McCarten
Starring: Thomas Sangster, Andy Serkis, Aisling Loftus, Ronan Raftery, Michael McElhatton, Sharon Horgan
Fifteen-year old Donald (Thomas Sangster) is suicidal. Why? He has cancer and has given up on life. His days are numbered. He is full of pubescent rage. All he wants to do is brood and whine and draw comic book superheroes. Donald’s parents (Michael McElhatton and Sharon Horgan) and his therapist (Andy Serkis) do not want him to throw in the towel quite yet; they are much more hopeful about his remission than Donald. Blah, blah, cancer, blah, blah…
Donald begins to turn the corner when he befriends Shelly (Aisling Loftus). Of course falling for Shelly sends Donald on an emotional roller coaster ride. Oh, and then his brother (Ronan Raftery) has the bright idea that Donald cannot die a virgin… That’s when things get a tad ridiculous…
Ian Fitzgibbon’s Death of a Superhero visually represents Donald’s fantasies and emotions by animating the characters that he draws. Surprisingly, this tactic is used with directorial subtlety, allowing it to play out rather organically. In fact, Death of a Superhero benefits from Fitzgibbon’s low-key approach to the narrative, steering clear of cheap tear-jerking sentimentality. Fitzgibbon understands that a story about a 15-year old dying of cancer is sad enough, he never has to force any emotions. In other words, this is not your typical Hollywood story. Leave it to the United Kingdom to keep things gut-wrenchingly real.