Burn Burn Burn is a 2015 British comedy directed by Chanya Button. It’s an offbeat road trip orchestrated by a dead man that takes our two heroines all over the UK before it’s finished.
Laura Carmichael plays Seph and Chloe Pirrie plays Alex. The story begins with these two friends at the funeral of their friend Dan (Jack Farthing). As they are about to leave, they are pulled into a room by Dan’s parents and given a flash drive that contains Dan’s last wishes. He wants them to distribute his ashes in four different spots around the UK. Dan has recorded instructions for each location, which they are not to watch until they reach the spot.
At first Seph and Alex are reluctant to go. Then Seph quits her job as a nanny, and Alex goes home to find her girlfriend having sex with someone else. Maybe a road trip isn’t such a bad idea after all.
As with any road trip, Seph and Alex meet a variety of interesting and bizarre people along the way. The most annoying was a bullshit philosopher, the most disruptive was a guy Seph had sex with in a bathroom. The story behind the sex in the bathroom was that Dan sent them to a club. That club was the place where he lost his virginity. In the bathroom.
Seph was just honoring Dan’s memory. Right? Except she has a “really nice guy” named James (Joe Dempsie) at home. He’s such a nice guy that he follows her on the road trip and proposes. She says yes, but tells Alex she has no intention of marrying him.
Part of what Dan does in his video instructions for each stop along the way is berate the two women. He wants them to reveal their secrets. He wants Seph to admit James is not the guy for her. He wants Alex to tell Seph about Amy.
Alex has to be figuratively nailed to a cross before she tells the story of Amy, but she finally does. It clears up a lot of things about her and about her relationship with her mother – a relationship that was explored in the course of the road trip.
The last person they meet is a hitchhiker played wonderfully by Alison Steadman. She wants a ride to Scotland, Dan’s final stop on the ash distribution schedule.
Dan manages to badger his two friends so well from his grave that they deal with some of the stuff holding them back from living life to the fullest. What a great friend, right? The more important part of the story however, was the friendship between the two women. Laura Carmichael and Chloe Pirrie have great chemistry together. The messages about love and friendship in the film are what tied it together for me.
The title Burn Burn Burn is a quote from Jack Kerouac, which Dan recites for his friends in one of his on the road video segments.
… the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Much of the action in the film took place inside the 20 year old car that Dan tricked out personally with a lighted glove box custom fit to hold his box of ashes. The camera work inside the car was very good. Some of the shots of the countryside and locations they visited were lovely. One scene high atop a hill in Scotland was especially beautiful, with the two friends hugging in silhouette against a vast backdrop of land and water.