10 September 2000 | jhclues
Rock N' Roll Mystery
Mystery surrounds the death of a rising rock star in director Martin Davidson's `Eddie and the Cruisers,' starring Tom Berenger and Michael Pare. With one successful album under their belts, lead singer and guitarist Eddie Wilson (Pare) takes his Cruisers into the recording studio to make an album he hopes will stand the world on its collective ear. Drawing the title from a work by Nineteenth Century poet Arthur Rimbaud, they begin to lay down tracks for `A Season In Hell.' But all is not well with Eddie and the band; there is dissent, and at least one among them, bassist Sal Amato (Matthew Laurance) disagrees with the direction in which Eddie has taken their music. Early one morning, toward the end of the recording sessions, Eddie's car goes off a bridge into the river; his body is never found. Now, eighteen years later, a reporter, Maggie Foley (Ellen Barkin) is doing a story on the Cruisers, and attempting to uncover the mystery behind the disappearance of the master tapes from the recording sessions, which inexplicably vanished the day after Eddie's apparent death. Pare is perfectly cast as Eddie, the Bruce Springsteen-like rocker; he lip-synchs convincingly to John Cafferty's vocals and deftly captures the persona of an early sixties rock n' roll idol on the rise. Tom Berenger (who is actually the star of the movie) does an excellent job as lyricist Frank Ridgeway, the keyboard player known as `Word Man' by the band. Davidson tells the story by effectively using flashbacks, through which we get to know Eddie and his band, and which establishes the relationships so pertinent to the present day conflicts which emerge during Foley's investigation of Eddie and the missing tapes. The focus is mainly on Ridgeway, therefore as the story unfolds it is predominately from his perspective that we learn what really happened, especially on that last night in the recording studio. That there is a comparison being drawn between Eddie and Jim Morrison of The Doors is unmistakable; the plot draws heavily on the myth that Morrison (and Eddie) is still alive and may have `Pulled a Rimbaud.' Poet Rimbaud (who is considered a genius, and to whom the creation of the form of modern poetry as we know it is attributed) committed `artistic suicide' at the age of nineteen, at which time he abruptly quit writing and disappeared for the next twenty years, only to reappear at last on his deathbed in France. That the title of Rimbaud's masterpiece is `A Season In Hell' is no coincidence. The parallels are drawn convincingly, which heightens the interest and adds to the credibility of the mystery. The supporting cast includes Joe Pantoliano (Doc), Helen Schneider (Joann), David Wilson (Kenny), Michael Antunes (Wendell) and Kenny Vance (Lew). An excellent soundtrack of original songs, written and performed by John Cafferty, provided Davidson with a solid base from which to launch his story. `Eddie and the Cruisers' is entertaining, if not entirely memorable, but the music and performances are good, and all in all this movie will do for a pleasant evening's viewing, with maybe a little popcorn thrown in for effect. If you haven't seen this one, try it out; I think you'll be glad you didn't let it pass you by. I rate this one 7/10.