|------------------------------------------------------------|--------------|!"Yeah, you can't lamely quote the lyrics to an instrumental, so I just lamely put down a little sample of the tabs from the titular song off of this film's source material album of the same somewhat awkward sounding name. Oh no, I'm very well aware that the title to this film and the album upon which it's based are refering to quadraphonic sound, but come on, now you can't deny that this title is an "L" in the place of the "N" away from helping you in seeing why Pete Townshend was faced with accusation that he had a thing for kids. Well, in all fairness, the child pornography that he looking through for the purpose of "research that would help him in better understanding the enemy in his fight against child pornography" didn't help, but hey, I still like him, and besides, my dad though Townshend was gay sooner than a pedophile, so I guess no one else really cares either. Hey, if you ask me, I think that Townshend really was doing research, as he does indeed know the struggle of children, as reflect in the album "Quadrophenia", as well as this adaptation, or at least that's what was said by critics who were too dirt-old by the '70s, alone, to understand what kids were talking about. Shoot, I'm not much more credible, because I can't even begin to get the kids I hate and am not a child of the '60s or '70s, no matter how much I think I am in my own little adorably insane way. Hey, I'm crazy like Jimmy Cooper, so I guess I'm close enough to relating to this rock opera's protagonist, at least more than I am to relating to Tommy from The Who's (Wait, wouldn't the proper way to say it be, "The Whose"?) other big rock opera, what my not being deaf, blind, dumb (I have some friends who would say otherwise), or even as good-looking or as good a vocalist as Roger Daltrey "was" (Sorry, man, but no matter how much you try, in recent years, that vocal rasp and stiff chin are really starting to stick out, and not just literally), which I suppose is fitting, because as much as I had fun with "Tommy", this here is the better Who film, though most certainly not to where my "love reigns o'er it" (Put down your hippity-hoppy junk, kids, and listen to some real music to get it), thanks to quite a few shortcomings.
A film like this could have easily dragged its feet something fierce, and lord knows that I feared that this product was going to, so of course I am reasonably relieved to report that the final product isn't as slow as I feared, which isn't to say that this film's managing to evade relatively considerable slow spells lasts for very long, as the film, while rarely, if ever all-out boring, often dries up in atmosphere just enough to spark a degree of disengagement behind meanderings that can admittedly even be found on paper, without dry directorial execution. At about two hours, this film is hardly sprawling, and boasts a broad story concept whose execution could prove to be quite comfortable with a two-hour runtime, but just ends up thinning certain things out, and making up for lost time with excess filler that rather blandly pads things out, until the film is left dragging its feet even when you disregard the cold spots in atmosphere. If nothing else, all of the padding within this film's story structure sparks repetition, which is not so considerable that the film falls flat as near-monotonous, but is pretty much hard to deny, for the final product's often dragging along in circles gives you more than enough time to meditate upon just how thin this story concept is, at least in certain areas. Sure, there is more than a hint of meat on this film's bones, and enough of it for the final product to almost accel as rewarding on the whole, but what really undercuts this film's full potential is its crafting from a promising broad story concept a final story structure that offers only so much in the way of genuine plotting, which, upon finally getting around to arriving, is perhaps too familiar for its own good. The film doesn't necessarily feel all-out generic, probably because there's only so much plot to the final product, while truly generic films of this type are every bit as rich with conventions as they are of events, but there is enough conventionalism behind this film's storytelling to spark predictability. Even if you haven't listened to and somehow managed to fully piece together the story of this film's really good source material rock opera album of the same name, you'd be hard pressed to ignore that this film is heading toward predictable waters (By the ways, this story's non-ending doesn't work as well as it did on the album), and doing so rather aimlessly, meandering along either slowly or with loose and repetitious storytelling, if not both, and after a while, as you can imagine, your investment thins out too much to grasp onto the final product as the rewarding opus that it could have been, and would have been if it was more focused. Still, even with all of its shortcomings, this film ultimately carries on as fairly enjoyable, with enough engagement value to almost reward, and decidedly to keep you going, or at least deliver on rewarding musical aspects.
Now, the late Keith Moon and John Entwistle may have been great and all (Why'd you have to do that cocaine, John? You were almost 58 years old!), but The Who wasn't an all out phenomenal band, and yet, I would still consider myself something of a fan, as they were still very good, with more than a few fine diddies under their belt, particularly when it came to the rock opera concept album upon which this film is based, which isn't necessarily great, but told a reasonably intriguing story entertainingly, and helps in doing just that in this film adaptation, whose soundtrack, - which is rich with both Who classics and other delightful '60s pop tunes - to a certain degree, livens up both entertainment value and substance. Needless to say, this film isn't quite as defined by its musicality as "Tommy", but substance is colored up by lively tunes, as well as by striking visuals, because as dated as then-future early Danny Boyle cinematographer Brian Tufano's photographic efforts are in this film, it's not hard to miss the handsome moments in lensing, of which, there are many. Tufano's plays with coloring and lighting may not be crisply well-defined, but they have their share of lovely moments to compliment clever camera plays, and to break up a consistent degree of grit that is, in fact, intentional and itself effective as a compliment to the effectiveness of this film's story, whose value, to be honest, doesn't exactly need to be backed up by a rather distince visual style to be seen. This film's subject matter, even with its unique touches, is all but nothing new at all, yet it is still rather worthy, carrying potential for thematic and dramatic weight that is hardly as fulfilled as it should have been within this executions' meandering storytelling, but made just palpable enough by the moments within Dave Humphries's, Franc Roddam's, Martin Stellman's and Pete Townshend's script, and Roddam's direction, that are genuinely effective. The moments in which the film particularly compels are limited, but they can be found by the patient, who will find the burden of waiting softened considerably a consistent degree of intrigue, which does anything from almost drag the final product out of underwhelmingness, to gracing a potentially unlikable protagonist with genuine compellingness that, in all fairness, wouldn't be what it is without the strength of the person who is directly behind our protagonist. Sure, there are plenty of decent performances throughout this film, but this is a young Phil Daniels' show, and he carries it, delivering on a kind of genuine charisma that sells you on the angst and ambition within the Jimmy Cooper, until, of course, reality come crashing down upon Cooper's head, and gives Daniels the opportunity to deliver on layers and emotional range that may not be as abundant as it probably would have been if Daniels had more material to work with, but really ice the cake when it comes to defining Townshend's symbolic character as a flawed young human. I wish I could say that the film delivers as much as Daniels, who, even then, isn't given enough material to be all that terribly outstanding, but what is done right in this film is hard to deny, powering a flawed and aimless opus just enough for it to sustain your attention more often than not.
Bottom line, a promising project is all too often undercut by the slow spells, repetitious padding and plot thinness that spark a kind of aimlessness in storytelling, and emphasize conventionalism within this subject matter, whose predictability helps in rendering the final product somewhat underwhelming, though not so much so that you're not still entertained by a strong soundtrack, aesthetically engaged by a generally striking visual style, and engaged enough by strong spells within leading man Phil Daniels' genuine performance, and within the execution of an often mishandled, but generally intriguing story concept that leaves "Quadrophenia" to stand as enjoyable and sometimes compelling "Who-pla", regardless of its many flaws.
2.75/5 - Decent
1964: Mods and Rockers jailed after seaside riots
Scores of youths have been given prison sentences following a Whitsun weekend of violent clashes between gangs of Mods and Rockers at a number of resorts on the south coast of England.
Britain's answer to Rebel Without A Cause is based around a fair-to-middling Who concept album (they financed the movie too) and was made on a modest budget, but has far too much going for it to be ignored. Especially if you are working class and come from the UK.
(How it is viewed elsewhere is beyond my telling, but reading reviews on this site I get the impression that people from all over the world can relate to its central themes - even if the locations and accents are alien.)
Director Franc Roddam was smart enough to cast a young Phil Daniels in the central role of Jimmy. Daniels is a good actor, but he is neither smooth or particularly good looking. This prevents him being accused of glamorising some of the things that he gets up to.
Jimmy is, indeed, also a bit naive. He has a boring job in the post room of an advertising agency (note the satire about pushing smoking - this is the "no health warning" 60's!) and rides around on a scooter with lots of lights on the front.
Life, for him, is about getting through the day and partying at night/weekends to the hip sounds of the day - the non-Who soundtrack album is a taster to mid 60's Brit Pop.
(His parents don't understand him either - but this could be taken as read in this style of movie!)
As most of us know, and a few even tell Jimmy in the movie proper: Life cannot be all parties, cheap thrills and gang fights, but he doesn't seem to want to listen. He is one of the world's great "there must be more to life than this" merchants - in this he is right, but you need to be brighter, better educated or better looking to have it.
There is a good cast of British new wavers on show here: Leslie Ash plays Jimmy's love interest and Sting gets to be the "Ace Face" - the good looking top dog mod that Jimmy wants to be. The home truth about this character leaves Jimmy even more exposed.
Quadrophenia is one of the greatest films about being a teenager ever made and thank god we have video cassettes, DVDs and cable/sat TV so people can actually see it. A low budget classic that deserves to seen at least once by all film buffs and several times if it reflects your life in any way.
Jimmy is also very very attractive, so that's an immediate plus;-)