For a small, island nation, we Brits do some things surprisingly well. One of those things is making sweet, heart-warming stories about the bond between man and animal.
Dusty And Me is the tale of Derek, Luke Newberry (“Quartet”, “In The Flesh (TV)”), who everyone calls Dusty on account of his surname being Springfield.
Derek is a clever 18-year old who was afforded a scholarship at a fancy, posh private school and looks all set to get the same to go to Oxford. This is despite, or maybe because, of his upbringing in a typical Yorkshire household of the 1970’s.
Derek’s father Big Eddie, Ian Hart (“Harry Potter”, “Backbeat”) is a doc-yard worker on long term sick who spends most of the time in the pub, his middle brother Georgie, Tom Prior (“Kingsman: The Secret Service”, “The Theory Of Everything”), plays football for Leeds United, a fact his father can’t stop going on about, whilst his eldest brother Little Eddie, Ben Batt (“Captain America: The First Avenger”, “Despite The Falling Snow”), is a bit of a jack of all trades, some of which are probably the wrong side of the law.
Derek never feels like he’s fitted in, too posh growing up, not posh enough at his fancy private school and never having his father’s approval.
Then one day he meets Slapper, the Greyhound. Slapper has slipped her lead from owner Mickey The Bubble, Iain Glen (“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter“, “Game Of Thrones (TV)”), who doesn’t want the dog anyway because he thinks she can’t run.
Derek however, takes a shine to her and proves that she can run. Unfortunately, he does this whilst out in the park with Chrissie, Genevieve Gaunt (“Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Askaban”, “The Royals (TV)”), a girl he likes, and is spotted by Bill, Lee Ross (“Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes”, “Centurion”), who fancies making some money on how quick Slapper is and so steals her.
Will the two find Slapper? Can they keep Bill and his helper away from her long enough to race her for real?
This may be the most biased review you’ve read for the parallels between Dusty And Me and my own life are quite stark, I could relate to the movie like I never have another film before as it so closely mirrors my own life.
First time writer Rob Isted draws on your typical fish-out-of-water tale by placing Derek right back at home, the last place anyone should feel out of place, but where Derek feels most out of place.
The person he’s closest to, his eldest brother, has to escape to Spain for a while, for reasons hinted at but could have something to do with the expensive watch he gave Dusty for his birthday.
This leaves Derek with no-one, until Slapper comes along, and he puts all his emotion and trust into this dog. For Derek hears what the local community say about him, he knows he doesn’t fit in and he doesn’t believe they want him to, not even his own father.
It comes as a surprise then, when they begin to rally-round, helped in part by the two villains of the piece being from the other side of the Pennines. People look-out for Slapper when she’s gone, they help trying to find her.
Dusty And Me is a beautiful little tale set against a seventies backdrop of Northern England. The performances are fine, the direction, by Betsan Morris Evans (“Waking The Dead (TV)”, “Dad Savage”), is good, the race sequences well shot.
But it’s the story that works best here. Isted has created something deliciously heart-warming and moving that is a delight to watch, and Slapper, despite the awful name, is a beautiful Greyhound, a face for the big screen.