Picks and Pans Review: Brassed Off

updated 06/02/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/02/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Ewan McGregor, Tara Fitzgerald, Pete Postlethwaite

In a small coal town in Yorkshire, England, one of the few diversions available to the miners is playing in the colliery's brass band. Lately, though, there have been some dangerously sour notes. The conservative Tory government, favoring nuclear power, wants to shut down the mine (Labour's victory last month makes the politics here seem a bit dated) while the band's proud leader (Postlethwaite) is lost in what seems to be a futile dream of getting his players all the way to London's Royal Albert Hall to win a national championship. McGregor (Trainspotting), as a French horn player, and Fitzgerald, a flugelhornist, make an unassumingly attractive couple. But Brassed Off, written and directed by Mark Herman, piles on more drama—not only fatal pulmonary illness but a party clown on the verge of a nervous breakdown—than this slight premise can handle. The movie delivers way too much doom-and-gloom-pah-pah. (R)

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