Flashbacks of a Fool (UK, 2008)

One night lying down

An excellent cast, including Daniel Craig and Olivia Williams, strive hard to make this schematic melodrama convincing (melodramas to tend to be schematic but this is schematic by melodrama’s standards) of a Hollywood star – Joe Scot – on the slide, revisiting his past. The central section of the film is early ’70s Britain (shot in S.Africa according to IMDB) when the young Joe meets the would-be love of his life. The coda sees Joe returning from Hollywood to ‘confront’ his past.

Craig’s good as the star on the slide (Mark Strong does a creepy turn as his agent; both Strong and Craig came to prominence in the BBC’s Our Friends in the North, 1996) but – SPOILER ALERT – the one night stand (there’s no sex involved) that the youthful Joe has does not convince as the ‘significant moment’ in his life that he was never able to recapture. The would-be cathartic finale, where the girl breaks down as she realises that Joe has remembered that evening for 25 years, has no emotional heft as it’s impossible to believe that listening to Roxy Music and Bowie could be so significant (nothing against Roxy of Bowie). It might have been better to show Scot’s belief that it was as an illusio, that he could have been happy ‘if only…’.

Similarly the tragedy of the exploding washed-up mine fails to convince: how the hell didn’t it explode when it landed on the beach?! The locations look great; a puzzling mix of west country sea – big waves – and flat East Anglian coast; explained by it being South Africa.

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