HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
First Love
Countess from Hong Kong, A
Storm Boy
Storm Boy
Frozen II
White Sheik, The
Whalebone Box, The
Hunt, The
Invisible Man, The
Honey Boy
System Crasher
Judy & Punch
Bacurau
Battling Butler
Vivarium
Seven Chances
Dogs Don't Wear Pants
Navigator, The
Knives Out
Hit!
Charlie's Angels
Passport to Shame
Le Mans '66
Keep Fit
Doctor Sleep
Friend or Foe
Brass Target
Mine and the Minotaur, The
Sky Pirates
Syncopation
Sea Children, The
Ghost of a Chance, A
Go Kart Go
Great Buster, The
Seventy Deadly Pills
Wings of Mystery
Treasure at the Mill
VFW
Crime Wave
Terminator: Dark Fate
   
 
Newest Articles
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
   
 
  Absolute Beginners Thrifty Fifties Meet Erratic Eighties
Year: 1986
Director: Julien Temple
Stars: Patsy Kensit, Eddie O'Connell, David Bowie, James Fox, Ray Davies, Mandy Rice Davies, Eve Ferrett, Tony Hippolyte, Graham Fletcher-Cook, Joseph McKenna, Steven Berkoff, Sade Adu, Edward Tudor-Pole, Bruce Payne, Alan Freeman, Anita Morris, Lionel Blair
Genre: Musical, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: London 1958, and it's a long hot summer the residents have to contend with, which all appears to be leading up to a pressure cooker situation which teenage Colin (Eddie O'Connell) is actually pretty excited about, but then he's at an age where life can seem that way no matter what is happening. He is beginning to make his name as a photographer, but he's more interested in his girlfriend Suzette (Patsy Kensit), a budding fashion designer who he fears losing to another man. In this highly charged atmosphere, who knows what could happen?

How about the British film industry suffering such a blow that it had to turn to television to make sure anything was being made in its name whatsoever? Such was the case with Absolute Beginners, the can't fail production from the unsteady Goldcrest which had all the hopes of the country riding on it, only to see them crumble when the final product was revealed to be sorely lacking. Naturally such things tend to gather a cult following, and a musical starring a roster of British talent both old and new was going to contain some elements of interest to movie fans, especially those who were keen on Brit pop culture which this owed so much to.

Which meant the cast were filled out with ageing celebs and current music raves alike in bit parts: where else could you see Irene Handl rubbing shoulders with Smiley Culture and Sandie Shaw, or Ray Davies of the Kinks married to Mandy Rice Davies of Profumo scandal fame, or Sade turning up for one song, which was what supposed star David Bowie pretty much did as well? Not wanting for curiosity value, then, but there was a sense that no matter how much money had been thrown at it (which was plenty), no matter how prodigiously ingenious director Julien Temple had been in keeping it together and keeping it innovative, there was something deeply naff about the end result.

Not helping was that this was based on one of the major British cult novels of the fifties, considered on a level with On The Road in its home nation, and to that original's fans this was nothing short of a travesty, a bastardisation of a vivid and vital classic. Except that in its way, the film was vivid and vital too, but not in the manner which appealed to anyone other than someone still riding the early eighties nostalgia for the fifties which by 1986 was dying out as times moved on - just ask Shakin' Stevens. Also in the disadvantage column was O'Connell, plucked from obscurity to star as the novelist's alter ego, only looking as if he'd be far more comfortable fronting a TV lager ad campaign.

As for Kensit, she got but one big scene in spite of her name above the title status, supposedly the next big Brit megastar but starring here did her no favours, especially as that big scene was a rather embarrassing one at a fashion show where she runs riot in a customised (i.e. ruined) dress. Apart from that, she had to be unhappily married to aloof designer James Fox and spend her time pining after Colin, not the proactive role she might have done wonders with if given the chance. Bowie had even less screen time, and for reasons best known to himself chose to essay the role of evil developer with a very strange accent; it was saying something that Ray Davies' self-penned number as Colin's dad overshadowed the Thin White Duke's try at a showstopper.

And Bowie had the major hit single from the movie, too. As long as this was sending up the post-war transition to the coming of the Swinging Sixties, it was on a fairly even keel, but once that was adapted into a sincere examination of the Notting Hill race riots which blighted the capital, as businessmen capitalised on prejudice to try and force out non-white residents of poor neighbourhoods to redevelop them, it was on shakier ground. As the grand finale took place during those disturbances, with Steven Berkoff showing up as a rabble-rousing fascist and Bruce Payne as his violent disciple, you can understand these sequences were crucial to the film's credibility, so perhaps staging the fighting as dancing was, well, a misstep. West Side Story hadn't really been cool since about 1966, and bringing up memories of how the establishment didn't "get" the cultural melting pot London was becoming would have been better if Absolute Beginners didn't seem similarly clueless. It was a case of brave try, but you could see why this was no blockbuster.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2893 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: