24 February 2007 | moonspinner55
Well crafted and cast, but familiar and obvious...
Working-class British lad in 1958 leaves school and hitches a ride into the next town, where he has hopes of becoming a rock star. Extension of the "angry young man" U.K. dramas from the early 1960's, with real-life pop star and Alan Bates-lookalike David Essex in the lead, has some appeal but is full of recycled ingredients: jukebox hits, nostalgic surroundings, boys chasing "birds". The correlation between Essex and his own roaming father (who left his wife and child after returning from service) is made too obvious, and the addition of Ringo Starr in a supporting role is cute but somewhat disconcerting (one of the threads within the film is the perception in late-'50's England that true rock-'n-rollers had to be from America--this before the Beatles rose to prominence). Essex, with his low-key charm and overbite, is quite believable, but neither the script nor the direction offers anything other than a formula. It's both an updating of, and throwback to, the British dramas of Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay, but without fresh subtext it becomes flabby. Released the same year as "American Graffiti", which romanticized this generation, the movie's downbeat tone is alienating--and its anti-hero leanings are unsatisfying. ** from ****