The Goob

Film Reviews

Prem Geet reviews this stunning first feature film.

The Goob posterHarbinger of the New Man, The Goob revels in sensuality, rebellion, and feminine consciousness. It has inspired and captured the hearts of audiences around the world and it is uncanny that many moments in the film seem to mirror Osho’s discourses.

Revealing writer-director Guy Myhill as the ultimate poet of moving pictures, this rare gem of a feature film has emerged from the UK. In a stark East Anglia setting of sprawling flatlands, raunchy stock car races, and a scarcity of choices for its farming residents, Myhill’s finely drawn characters on the verge of adulthood are perfectly cast to express the beauty of primal eros in contrast to the ugliness of commoditised sex they witness in the town predator, a stock car racer named Gene, played by Sean Harris.

With much of the talent rooted in the Norfolk area, the film is peopled with remarkably fresh actors in dynamic roles. Liam Walpole plays Goob Taylor, a transcendently handsome young man who explores his tender first love with Eva (Marama Corlett), a riveting screen presence much like a farm girl version of Cleopatra. Together the young lovers are a sheer pleasure to behold as Goob grapples with his mother’s wrenching choice to stay with her lover, the town bully.

Goob’s silent receptivity seems to personify a favorite Osho quote: “A really wise man is feminine, receptive, passive. That’s why Buddha looks so feminine. That quality of passiveness, that quality of receptivity… He is just a receptacle. He reflects life: he allows life to reflect in him, to be reflected through him. He sings the song that existence wants to sing through him. He has no ideas of his own; he does not hinder.” (1)

Like David Bowie and Dr. Spock before him, Goob can also be seen as a harbinger of the New Man.

the goob

On the surface, the story is a conflicted triangle between Goob, his mother, played by Sienna Guillory, and the abusive stock car racer Gene. Goob knows that Gene is unfaithful to his mother and holds that painful secret until his girlfriend is the target of Gene’s unrelenting lust entitlement. While the narrative is framed as a coming-of-age story, the film’s deeper meaning is revealed as various characters show how different levels of consciousness view and value (or de-value) sexuality and the feminine. The story values the feminine qualities in both man and woman, again reflecting the words of Osho:

“All the great artists of the world slowly slowly start growing a quality of feminineness, grace, elegance, exquisiteness. A certain flavor of softness, relaxedness, calmness and quietness surrounds them. They are no longer feverish. What I am teaching here is really to turn the whole world feminine.” (2)

Rounding out a thrilling ensemble cast, Oliver Kennedy is a captivating actor in the role of Elliott, a friend and farmhand to Goob. An uber-sexual delight, Kennedy plays the perfect embodiment of the feminine within. In a party scene, Elliot wears a skin tight red dress and is completely comfortable in his dancing body, always inciting joy. Elliot’s playful freedom is a threat to Gene’s constant fear-inspired control. It is ironic that Gene, representing the old school patriarchy, flies into a rage and makes Ellis strip off the red dress.

Here’s a relevant Osho comment on dress: “You should understand that there comes a moment of innocence when many things become hindrances for the innocent mind. Clothes comprise one of the strongest inhibitions of man; they make for the deepest of taboos. They represent one of man’s oldest and deeply ingrained customs. And a moment comes in our social life when our garments become the symbol of our whole civilization.” (3)

Myhill has said that his character, Elliot, is about “a new kind of man.” This truly original character brings to mind Osho’s vision for a New Man who incorporates the feminine energy for a New Humanity: “The dawn is bound to come. The night may be long. The agony may be great. The darkness may be becoming more and more dark but nothing can prevent the new man arising on the horizon. In a way, he has already come, he has just to be recognized.” (4)

As the writer of this fine screenplay, Myhill uses little dialogue and paints an indelible sense of place. Under his superb direction, skillful actors show the story rather than tell it. Using a style of lush sensuality, stark realism, and a zen-like economy of dialogue, Myhill blends the animal vitality and spiritual magnificence of each character with exquisite care. His actors communicate soulful feeling and mysterious connection through their silences. The cinematography by Simon Tindall and camera work by Guy Myhill are iconic, contrasting the sunlit fields of Norfolk with the rich black lines of vivid junk cars. The Goob is scored with an altogether illuminating musical psycho-sphere composed by Luke Abbott; the film is beautifully edited by Adam Biskupski. As a result, the artfully layered film renders bursts of complex emotion and surprise in every scene. Like very few filmmakers, Myhill has coaxed the universal to shine through the local.

The film’s bully character Gene is not so much a pure villain but a static sex addict trapped in a familiar circle of addiction like a race car going around a tight track that he cannot escape. On the other hand, Goob’s job is to keep predators away and protect the valuables of life. As the night watchman over the large field of ripe pumpkins and guardian of his mother and girlfriend, Goob stays true to himself, despite his degraded role model who easily takes all. Dramatically revealing his internal shifts, Goob continually loses innocence and absorbs learning from Gene but does not emulate the bully. The young man’s choice to remain free of the bully’s influence is a dramatic triumph of deep impact. The intense struggle between Gene and Goob seems to out-picture another Osho discourse on male and female energy:

“The male is like rock, the female is like water. A sannyasin has to be very feminine, soft, vulnerable, open, like a flower: so soft, yet so powerful. Its power is of a totally different order. It is not the power of the rock, certainly. If you throw a rock at the flower the flower will be crushed. That is one of the mysteries of life to be understood: if the higher comes to clash with the lower, the lower immediately wins because the lower is a brute force. But ultimately the lower cannot win; ultimately the flower will come back, ultimately the flower will revive.” (5)

A special note on one of the film’s most poignant scenes: In Goob’s mostly silent farewell to his mother, the young man’s eyes seem to embody the sky as he accepts that his beautiful mother is choosing the bully over him. This is filmmaking at its best.

The Goob is a radically subtle motion picture about the beauty of rebellion and the power of saying no to fear. It’s a film that resonates deeply with audiences in an era of accelerating narcissism and terrorism. Like other great films, The Goob is about finding ways to become free. Goob becomes free of his label name by standing in his innate elegance and learning that he was never a goob, not even for a moment. His choice is our own: To love or bully. Like Goob, we all ride into the night, free to become more than our errant role models, more than the past.

A brilliant feature debut.

Prem Geet, Osho News

Quotes by Osho from
(1) The Sun Rises in the Evening, Ch 1
(2) The Book of Wisdom, Che 7, Q 5
(3) In Search of the Miraculous Vol. 1, Ch 8, Q 1
(4) Osho, The Transmission of the Lamp, Ch 39, Q 1
(5) Don’t Let Yourself Be Upset by the Sutra, rather Upset the Sutra Yourself, Ch 51

Production companies: EMU Films, BFI, BBC Films, iFeatures, Creative England
International sales: Le Bureau Films

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