Flashbacks of a Fool – the redux review
The world has taken notice of Daniel Craig since he took on the role of James Bond in Casino Royale. Despite impressive performances in Layer Cake, Infamous and Munich he has only really gained notoriety since 007 was rebooted in 2006. Before he started shooting the upcoming Quantum of Solace he took on a very different role in Flashbacks of a Fool.
This movie is not for everyone; that much is clear. In fact it makes no pretensions to be very likeable either. The pace is somewhat slow and dreary. Some might argue that this gives the audience to take it all in. Personally I think it was to fill in time. Strangely Daniel Craig's performance (of Joe Scott) bookends the movie and yet neither the first, or final act holds the weight that the second does.
Harry Eden plays young Joe Scott (in flashbacks) and holds his own well amongst some entertaining characters. Indeed, the younger children are the most entertaining in this respect. Again strangely, the funeral of Joe Scott's friend "Boots" (sounds like a dog's name) is the catalyst of the piece and yet this friendship is barely explored. This is a great shame as young Joe chasing girls (well, one woman and one girl) is not quite as fulfilling. You feel as if the original intention was to concentrate on the friendship that was lost and yet poor "Boots" is somehow left behind (probably due to script rewrites).
As the title suggests it is a contemplative piece, following in the footsteps of The Station Agent. Unfortunately it doesn't quite get close to the subtleties of the latter. Joe Scott is not a character that inspires sympathy easily. He is a out-of-date Hollywood actor who is drinking, shagging and snorting his way to an early grave. He has vasts amounts of cash and beautiful women all ready to leap into bed with him (with their friends). As I said, this is a movie that doesn't much care if you like it. It doesn't seem to care about the meandering through the plot as if it has lost its way. It doesn't care if you just don't get it. Many will be in this ballpark and will finish the movie despairing for wasting 2 hours of their life.
If you do brave out the film though, you'll be left wondering why so little was made of the friendship between Boots and Joe, how Joe really felt about each character on screen and whether he has actually learned anything along the way. This was a missed opportunity and exploring one of the many (better) avenues would not have been detrimental to the movie as it was elongated in the first place.
This is a very normal film (until an extremely silly catastrophe midway through). There is nothing wrong with "normal", but would you pay money to see "normal" when you can just look out your window? I for one am keen to watch this film again, if only to try and spot the nuances that I have clearly missed. There must have been more to the tale described subtly (or thematically). Maybe not, but you could watch it again and again and still argue about its true meaning.
For Daniel Craig though (like The Golden Compass), this movie does nothing to show the world that he can do anything but Bond. He does not shine throughout Flashbacks of a Fool. Harry Eden does! Somehow despite physically looking similar, the two actors are unable to synchronise as well as you'd hope. You simply do not buy the fact that Craig is playing an older version of Eden.
Bold movies should always be appreciated for what they are. Despite its misgivings and its inaccurate depiction of an England beach (it was filmed in South Africa), you have to appreciate the fact that it simply doesn't care whether you, I, or the world loves it. It is simply, what it is.
3.5 out of 5