The problem with writing about a film about spelling, is that the very act of writing removes the difficulty of words the suspense rests upon. Spellbound is a terrific film, and oddly makes a great double bill with Kill Bill, but it is difficult to write down exactly what is so suspenseful about a ten year old boy having trouble spelling the word Banns.

The charm in Spellbound obviously comes from its eight protagonists. The film-makers have cleverly scoured the country for eight contestants who are pretty diverse, different socio-economic backgrounds and with differing reasons to be taking part in the National Spelling Bee. Because the film is not trying to make too much of a grand statement about the US as a whole, it manages to be illuminating in wholly other ways. It is easy for a cynic like me to laugh at the American dream, less so when you see people pursuing it. However the cynic in me can still chortle a touch when the means is by spelling words they will never use and do not know the meaning of. Even so it is a bit disingenuous calling the spelling bee a wholly worthless competition, so is the Rugby World Cup but plenty of people are drawn in by it.

The beauty of Spellbound is that when we finally get tired of seeing the bunch of misfits that make up our lead characters we then get plunged into the competition itself. And we do care who wins. There is point when we realise that with the amount of footage that has been shot, it is more than possible that the winner, the one in two hundred and forty nine, might not be one of our eight. Especially when the ace in the films sleeve is finally pulled out. The competition favourite and the best baddie you’ll see on film this year. Just don’t write about the words.

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