Film shorts: Starfish an extraordinary true story of real-life drama

Tom Riley in Starfish, a moving drama based on a harrowing true story
Damon Smith

STARFISH (15, 95 mins)

BASED on an extraordinary true story, Starfish is a moving drama about a family who are unexpectedly thrown into turmoil when the spectre of debilitating illness touches their lives.

Doting father and children's book author Tom Ray (Tom Riley) stays at home to take care of his daughter Grace (Ellie Copping) and keep a close eye on his pregnant wife, Nicola (Joanne Froggatt). Without warning, Tom experiences violent stomach pains and by the time he is rushed into hospital, he is struck down by an extreme and rare case of the life-threatening blood disease septicaemia.

Faced with the possibility of losing her husband, Nicola gives surgeons permission to do everything they can to save Tom and medics remove his legs, lower arms and part of his face to halt the disease's relentless march.

The long and painful road to self-acceptance and rehabilitation begins, but the Rays don't have sufficient funds for prosthetic limbs so they begin fundraising to help Tom make small steps towards reconnecting with his loved ones after his harrowing ordeal.


JAMES Buckley from The Inbetweeners headlines this potty-mouthed comedy directed by Mark Murphy, about a failing stand-up, struggling to connect with his unimpressed audiences.

Since boyhood, James Mullinger (Buckley) has dreamed of making people laugh for a living but the reality of life as a stand-up is more of a nightmare.

His therapist (Gareth Pace) can't seem to help and James isn't much better as a journalist for COQ Magazine. Straight-talking editor Phillip (Paul Kaye) commissions him to travel to LA to interview the greatest comedians from both sides of the Atlantic for the magazine.

Cameos include Brendon Burns, Jimmy Carr, Omid Djalili, Gilbert Gottfried, Mike Wilmot and Gina Yashere. Available simultaneously on DVD.

ETHEL & ERNEST (PG, 95 mins)

BASED on the graphic novel by Raymond Briggs about his parents, Ethel & Ernest is a heart-warming animated drama directed by Roger Mainwood, which documents the shared life of two ordinary people, who first meet in 1928.

Ethel (voiced by Brenda Blethyn) is working as a maid and Ernest (Jim Broadbent) cycles past the house and is smitten. He brings flowers to ask her out to the cinema and their romance quickly leads to marriage. Ernest earns his crust as a milkman while Ethel stays at home to raise their son Raymond (Luke Treadaway).

Through the eyes of these characters, the landscape of British culture ebbs and flows. Ethel and Ernest's love endures over the decades and into the early 1970s when the story reaches its inevitable, yet tear-stained, conclusion.

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