“A teenage boy (newcomer Liam Walpole) is torn between loyalty to his family and a restless dissatisfaction with his rural roots in The Goob, a British drama that’s rich in atmosphere but dramatically undernourished and stippled with cliché,” finds Leslie Felperin in the Hollywood Reporter. “A feature debut for writer-director Guy Myhill, who’s made documentaries and shorts in Norfolk where the film is set, the film’s strong suit is its insider’s feel for the landscape and working-class milieu depicted. However, Myhill’s script picks up plot strands and characters and then casually discards them in a way that’s probably meant to be arty and oblique but often comes across as inattentive.”
The Goob, premiering at Venice Days, “ostensibly borrows heavily from the Andrea Arnold school of contemporary working class miserablism,” notes Adam Woodward at Little White Lies. “Stylistically and tonally, however, it blends the codeine reverie of Harmony Korine’s Gummo with the cold-shower realism of early Ken Loach, although perhaps the film it best evokes is Shane Meadows‘s A Room for Romeo Brass. This is a tremendously assured portrait of an underprivileged if sporadically joy-filled childhood.”
“Heavy on incident but light on overarching direction, The Goob never escapes the sense that Myhill has rolled a number of viable first-film ideas into one,” writes Guy Lodge for Variety.
Catherine Bray for HitFix: “The specific setting is different, but between Tom Harper’s The Scouting Book for Boys, Paul Wright’s For Those in Peril, Lisle Turner’s Here & Now, Joe Stephenson’s Chicken et al, the last five years in the UK film scene have seen quite a lot of focus on young male rural weirdoes at odds with the local community…. Nevertheless, The Goob is a stylish effort…, and frankly, any film that provides a reason for Sean Harris do his scrawny wrong ‘un thing on the big screen is a film worth making.”
Screen‘s Mark Adams: “The hot and heady backdrop helps give the film a dramatic edge, and while the story is rather familiar, the locations are more than memorable.”
Updates, 8/31: “There’s nothing new about portraying hopeless and repressed provincial youth or the open hostility between a son and his mother’s new boyfriend on screen,” writes Vittoria Scarpa at Cineuropa. “Nevertheless, Guy Myhill’s movie succeeds in creating unexpected tension and suspense.”
From the Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw: “You may wonder where the film is leading us—except to the inevitable flourish of violence—but perhaps directionlessness is the point. Actually no one here is capable of imagining a different future for themselves, or indeed, seriously questioning the present. There are moments of unoriginality and deja-vu in some of the visual language here, but The Goob is an arresting and confident debut.”