Flashbacks Of A Fool
Review by Jack Foley
DANIEL Craig stars in and produces Flashbacks Of A Fool, a long cherished project that he has helped to bring to the screen with longtime friend Baillie Walsh, who writes and directs. But the ensuing film, although extremely stylish and occasionally moving, is very much a flawed experience.
Walsh’s ambitious screenplay often feels like it’s struggling to squeeze everything in, especially late on, and he expects his audiences to make some pretty big leaps of faith.
But those that do will enjoy Craig’s gutsy central performance as well as the heightened sense of nostalgia and sexuality that surrounds the flashback sequences.
Beginning in the present day, the film picks up in the aftermath of a drug-fuelled orgy as Craig’s washed-up movie star Joe Scot is faced with the prospect of having thrown his career away. He’s further shaken by a phone call from his mum (Olivia Williams) informing him of the sudden death of his childhood friend, Boots (Max Deacon).
Distraught, Joe seeks sanctuary on the beach and is moved to reflect on his formative years growing up in a seaside coastal town in the UK, when as a young man (now played by Harry Eden) he enjoyed a summer of passion involving a Roxy Music obsessed teenager (Felicity Jones) and a sexually frustrated mother (Jodhi May) that ended in tragedy.
Flashbacks Of A Fool is arguably at its best when Craig is on the screen, his egotistical screw-up offering a fascinating glimpse into the dangers of Hollywood success and the ghosts from the past that can haunt people no matter how far they run. A meeting with his agent (played by Mark Strong) is particularly well-played, as is his subsequent journey back home to confront family and friends.
The flashbacks, too, succeed in recapturing the joy and frustration of those teenage years and feature strong performances from the likes of Eden, May and Jones that are filled with a sexual energy and musical passion thar are partly drawn from the writer-director’s own past (especially musically).
The main tragedy that underpins the story is also devastatingly realised in one of the film’s many well orchestrated set pieces.
But as strong as some moments are, the film struggles to hang together as a whole and there are lapses that could have benefited from greater exploration, such as the friendship between Joe and Boots that feels under-developed.
The cursory explanation of the fate of one key character also drew some unintentional giggles at the screening I saw, while the final few scenes felt rushed given the emotions involved. It prevented the film from carrying a really lasting emotional impact and gave rise to the suspicion that Walsh had over-indulged during some of the coming-of-age material.
That said, Flashbacks Of A Fool still has plenty to enjoy and it does lay down some impressive markers for the future. Craig provides a timely reminder that there’s more to the actor than his 007 persona, Walsh appears to be a stylish filmmaker to watch and younger cast members such as Eden and Jones seem to have a very bright future ahead of them.
Running time: 114mins
UK DVD Release: September 22, 2008