Friday, 30 January 2009

“Flashbacks Of A Fool”. A Review Of The 2008 Film on DVD.

“I Would Do Anything For You…I Would Walk A Thousand Miles…Read You My Secrets…”

Having just had a threesome with two luscious naked babes in the silk sheets of his bedroom (itself the size of Terminal 5) and having just stuffed up his hooter enough pharmaceuticals to paralyse the entire population of Vancouver, Daniel Craig then stands on the balcony of his multi-million-dollar Malibu home overlooking the Pacific ocean in his linen strides – and sighs – where did it all go wrong???

Some people think it started here…because some folks have asked how this film even got made. Reactions to “Flashbacks Of A Fool” have been very mixed – some calling it utter tosh - while others have been deeply moved by it and awarded it 5 stars. Personally I enjoyed the movie immensely – not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination - but there was an awful lot in “Flashbacks Of A Fool” to enjoy and nice to see a varied troupe of young and more experienced actors given real meat to work with – and rising to it – all are uniformly excellent.

Freed of the acting constraints of Bond, Craig is a revelation - fantastically different as the fading Joe Scott. All twitchy, needy and in his late 40’s, Joe is a one-time famous movie star who has lived his life to excess at all times and is now growing ever more dependent on his bored black maid and packets of powder from visiting white ‘friends’. Joe Scott is all egomania and awash in the nasty distant side of himself that goes with addiction and endlessly appeased self-praise.

Then he receives some news from his ageing mum (Olivia Williams) by long distance phonecall. His young adolescent past – especially his relationship with a compliant mate called Boots (understatedly played by Max Deacon) are now coming back to haunt him. As well as Boots - whom he left in the dust so that young Joe Scott (played by a superb and visually similar Harry Eden - pictured with Craig below) could seek fame and fortune in the USA - there are also intense feelings for his first true love - Ruth Davies - played by the lovely Felicity Jones - and how he eventually treated Ruth…

Other actors include Mark Strong who has a great piece as Joe’s now impatient Hollywood agent - and the actress Eve who plays her character Ophelia Franklin, Joe’s ever-supportive but wary maid convincingly well. Jodhi May is also superb as Evelyn, a friend to Joe’s mum who is always in the Scott family kitchen with her lustful married eye on the sexually naïve, but handsome and lithe young Joe.

There’s also a particularly brilliant sequence - which many have already commented on – where young Ruth and Young Joe are dancing to Roxy Music’s “If There Is Something” from the band’s 1972 debut album “Roxy Music” (lyrics above). As young Ruth places the needle into track three of Side One, we see the pink-rim palm-tree Island label of an original vinyl LP pressing…and off she goes. She sings the words and mimes the movements of Bryan Ferry. Young Joe follows suit - falling hopelessly in love - under her magic spell - and loosing him self to a moment that will haunt him for the rest of his makeup bound life. Although its just them dancing to a Seventies song - the lyrics and the music make it intensely moving - and nostalgic too – and all of it imbibed with men’s inexplicable love for Bowie and Roxy Music and Mott The Hoople and T.Rex and…well, any music from that magical period really (Felicity Jones as Ruth and her older self played by Claire Forlani are pictured below).

The story then goes on to teenage lust, family squabbling and a terrible tragedy that wasn’t avoided by a busy-body old neighbour who’s shouting wasn’t heard (played to perfection by Miriam Karlin)…

Although the ‘flashback” sequence is very long – I thought it was brilliantly realised – especially young Joe’s awakening to the effect he has on the opposite sex – which of course is carried on into his film star years as Daniel Craig character. And although he’s a bit of an obnoxious git really and therefore difficult to like – Craig to his credit plays his character true all he way – whether he grows or not. There’s also a very satisfactory reconciliation scene with an emotionally blocked, but still very beautiful Claire Forlani…the grown-up Ruth.

Written and Directed by Baillie Walsh, the cinematography also features lovely South Australian locations dubbing as Summertime coastal Britain and original music by Richard Hartley in between the 70’s tunes.

'Growing up' has been done before so many times, so it’s hard to get a new or even fresh angle on it, but it was cleverly realised and brilliantly acted in “Flashbacks Of A Fool”. And while some have complained that Craig is only on screen for 30 minutes – man what a great half hour it is – a lot better than the half-assed crap that was the last Bond outing where I felt his heart wasn’t in it at all. Well on this film his acting is. And as the brilliant and evocative “It Ain’t Easy” by David Bowie played out the credits, I was compelled, moved and grinning from ear to ear.

Put “Flashbacks Of A Fool” high on your rental/to buy list – highly recommended.

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