Flashbacks of a Fool
dir-scr Baillie Walsh
with Daniel Craig, Harry Eden, Eve, Olivia Williams, Jodhi May, Helen McCrory, Miriam Karlin, Claire Forlani, Felicity Jones, Max Deacon, Keeley Hawes, Emilia Fox, Mark Strong, James D'Arcy, Sid Mitchell, Alfie Allen
release UK 18 April 2008
08/UK 1h54
Flashbacks of a Fool
I am Joe: Craig (above) and Eden Flashbacks of a Fool

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R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Flashbacks of a Fool This intriguing two-prong film is extremely well-filmed, with terrific performances from the entire cast. But the plot feels underdeveloped, never quite letting us in. And the preachy dialog gets extremely annoying.

Joe Scott (Craig) is a Hollywood megastar who has destroyed his career with arrogance and substance abuse. His only connection with reality is his straight-talking housekeeper (Eve), but he barely notices she's there. Then one day after an upsetting phone call from his mother (Williams), he takes a drunken swim down memory lane, remembering life as a teen (Eden) on the English coast with his best pal (Deacon), the girl he loves (Jones) and the neighbour woman (May) who seduces him. He also finally faces up to why he left home so suddenly.

Writer-director Walsh has a strong visual eye, beautifully recreating both the gleaming Los Angeles coastline and the dusty glow of rural Britain, although it could be argued that everything looks just a bit unused. But he encourages the actors to fully inhabit their roles, which gives the film a depth and resonance that lingers in the mind. As Joe, both Eden and Craig are terrific, using their striking physicality and subtle expressiveness to maximum effect as a boy/man struggling to face up to his actions.

The problem is that the excellent surrounding cast members are saddled with an over-written, obvious script in which they must continually state the obvious in mini-sermons: "You're the most self-indulgent fool I've ever met!" "You have squandered every opportunity you've ever had!" "The only thing you need courage for is standing still!" It's pretty exhausting, really, especially since all of these sentiments are conveyed much more strongly through the performances and situations, and yet Walsh clearly doesn't trust his audience to get it.

This is a pity, because the story is fascinating, and it's cleverly cast and photographed. It feels as if Walsh is cramming everything he possibly can into this film, from serious messages to musical influences (including some gorgeous, but ultimately irrelevant, David Bowie and Brian Ferry numbers). And while piling on the Important Life Lessons, he skips over some important plot points. This is still a provocative and thoughtful film, but it's also rather unconvincing.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality, violence, drugs 8.Apr.08

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Flashbacks of a Fool ashley edgar, london: 5/5 "Harry Eden and Felicity Jones are certain to be two of BritainŐs upcoming stars. As we are taken back in time, JoeŐs hormonal emotions are depicted so truthfully we can relate to them as if they are our very own. The performances from Daniel Craig, Eden and Jones particularly make this film a must see. The writer/director, Baillie Walsh, creates an almost dreamlike quality to his shots which results in a superb scene between the young Joe and Ruth dancing to the legendary Roxy Music. The performances, locations and soundtrack all come together to create a stunning and emotional film. I would highly recommend watching it. I even bought the soundtrack yesterday, it's that good!" (24.Apr.08)
© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall