FLASHBACKS OF A FOOL Directed by Bailie Walsh. Starring Daniel Craig, Harry Eden, Jodhi May, Olivia Williams, Miriam Karlin, Keeley Hawes
release, 113 min
16 cert, gen IF YOU’RE in the mood for Generic 1970s Coming-of-Age Movie #3, then you might like to take a glance at the debut feature from Bailie Walsh.
The director, who shot some of Massive Attack’s most famous videos, demonstrates that, like many film-makers from a similar background, he has a good eye for a striking image. A shot of bacon frying in pan features quite pornographic levels of pinkness and dampness. The English seaside – actually South Africa – appears to have been painted in expensive shades of Burnt Ochre. It’s very pretty, very glam and very tasteful. But, my word, it feels old (and not just because most of the action takes place 30 years ago).
The film is book-ended by sequences illustrating a movie star’s textbook decline into inebriated obsolescence. Daniel Craig, who also shares a producer’s credit, rolls around the bedroom with Californian strumpets, argues with his personal assistant, then makes his way to a lunch meeting with his easily distracted agent. After being told that he is now too old for an upcoming lead role, he stomps into the Pacific and, while floating picturesquely, falls into a nostalgic reverie.
It is the 1970s. How do we know? Because the teenage version of the future star clutches a copy of
to his chest for a good 10 minutes. Later, while preparing himself for a significant moment of sexual awakening, he prances about his girlfriend’s house to the strains of the first Roxy Music album. Her pad contains tubular steel lighting, hilarious deep-pile carpets and – oh, please no! – a conspicuously displayed fondue set. Bailie must have had to restrain himself from inviting Bruce Forsyth round for a glass of Sodastream cola.
central act (the hero’s seduction by a horny neighbour straight out of a film), his faltering friendship with a less fragile youth, and one absurd moment of violent melodrama has less to do with the 1970s as they were than with the version of the decade that appeals to contemporary rock stars. Hard though it may be to credit, young people did actually listen to music other than Bowie and early Roxy in 1974. Not every pale boy wore make-up.
Still, the film, well acted throughout, has a warmth that is hard to totally resist, and never looks anything less than ravishing. Though not a patch on the superficially similar it will do well enough.