A refreshingly unsentimental account of a teenager dealing with terminal cancer, Death of a Superhero sees Donald (Thomas Brodie-Sangster, in an excellent turn) retreat into a dark comic-book fantasy as a way of coping with his own mortality. Outwardly assured and resigned to his fate, Donald’s main concerns are getting laid, pissed and generally having a ball with his mates before he goes, much to the chagrin of fretful mother Renata (Sharon Horgan).
Marrying live-action drama and animated sequences based on the boy’s appropriately bleak, sexually-charged drawings is elegant shorthand to betray his real state of mind; an insidious fear and immaturity belying the surface bravado. With keenly observed relationships between the hero and his family in particular, some extremely funny moments and a frank, original approach, it’s a shame Andy Serkis’ cardy-sporting, progressive shrink and confidant seems entirely superfluous, however solid his performance. This walking cliché is an unfortunate bum note in what is an otherwise heartfelt and honest picture. [Chris Fyvie]
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