Flashbacks of a Fool

2008-12-12 10:19
Flashbacks of a Fool
What it's about:

Joe Scott (Daniel Craig) is a British actor living the typical sex, drugs and rock 'n roll life of excess in California. His life begins to fall apart when his career takes a sudden nose-dive and he hears of the death of a beloved childhood friend. Forced to re-evaluate his life, Joe reminisces about his childhood in England and the events that led him to flee for the bright lights of Hollywood.

What we thought of it:

It's all good and well that people are able to recover from failing careers, stop using drugs, and find themselves. Unfortunately for movies, that process really isn't very interesting to watch. To make matters worse, Flashbacks of a Fool never quite fits together, and never feels like it's falling apart on purpose. In the end, trying to accept all its twists and turns and inconsistencies just becomes exhausting.

The sense of dislocation is made even worse (for local viewers at any rate) by the way the movie - supposedly set between LA and Joe's childhood in England - features Cape Town scenery extensively - and not just in the beachfront scenes that are supposed to take place on the British coast, which are full of local plants indigenous to SA. At one point, supposedly in a scene set in California, Craig pulls out of restaurant called Salt (the one in Bantry Bay, pretty much left unchanged for the shoot) and swings onto the left side of the road - without colliding with oncoming traffic. That's just not America.

Unfortunately, continuity mistakes like this tend to bring your reluctantly suspended disbelief crashing onto the rocks.

Still, there are some great scenes in Flashbacks. Like the deliciously drawn-out, drug-fuelled sex scene that introduces us to the washed-up, f*cked-up actor Joe Scott, in bed with two airhead models.

Joe's flashback discovery of his first love to a Roxy Music classic is enough to make any fan long to relive memories with new madness. The art direction and cinematography is beautiful throughout and the character parts are well-acted by Max Deacon as his friend, Felicity Jones as his first crush and Jodhi May as the seductive, bored, and married neighbour.

And yes, many of the tragic incidents around which Joe's messed-up-ness revolves are memorable - particularly the sex. In fact, director Baillie Walsh (whose previous projects include decadent music videos for INXS and Massive Attack) should consider making a full-length art-erotica feature instead of this morality tale.

While working through the complicated, time-shifting storyline, Flashbacks loses the plot. The pace veers from heady to pedantic and back many times over. And everything ties up too neatly, with Joe solving someone's problems, helping them experience their grief, quitting the drugs, and having his own personal revelation all at once. Sure this stuff happens in real life, but in a movie it just seems too much like a Bible story to be true.

Despite its good moments, Flashbacks of a Fool forgets to entertain. It attempts to tell an epic story that spans generations, continents and cultures, while starring a character who becomes less interesting the more he matures. That's not just an overly ambitious move. That's a stupid idea for a film.

- Jean Barker

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Rather than being the movie that saves Daniel Craig from Bond stereotyping, Flashbacks of a Fool will make him grateful to be 007.

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