In a love story set in Curitiba, Southern Brazil, a patriarch witnesses the crumbling of his life-long family business at the hands of his descendants. Suddenly Sofia appears. Is she from ... See full summary »
Nora Walker is told that her British fighter pilot husband is missing in action and presumed killed in World War II. On V.E. Day, Nora gives birth to their son, who she names Tommy. While Tommy is an adolescent, Nora marries Frank, a shifty camp counselor. Shortly thereafter, Tommy suffers an emotionally traumatic experience associated with his father and step-father, which, based on things told to him at that time, results in him becoming deaf, dumb and blind, a situation which several people exploit for their own pleasure. As Nora tries several things to bring Tommy out of his psychosomatic disabilities, Tommy, now a young man, happens upon pinball as a stimulus. Playing by intuition, Tommy becomes a pinball master, which in turn makes him, and by association Nora and Frank, rich and famous. Nora literally shatters Tommy to his awakening, which ultimately leads to both the family's rise and downfall as people initially try to emulate Tommy's path then rebel against it. Written by
Ann-Margret largely improvised the infamous bean scene. Ken Russell simply told her that her character was having a nervous breakdown, and that she could do whatever she wanted. Unfortunately at one point during filming her hand accidentally struck the broken glass of the TV screen and Russell had to rush her to hospital for stitches. See more »
These pricey deals don't teach us. Your freedom doesn't reach us. Awareness doesn't shape us. Enlightenment escapes us. How can all this trivia take us to the goal you reached? We came here to be like you, find the world you preach.
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It helps to have an appreciation for Ken Russell, not Pete Townsend
This is a Ken Russell movie, make no mistake. It is relentlessly twisted, ugly, savage (for a sometimes humorous effect) and trippy. Russell may be the oldest flower child of all time. Surreal plot concerns a deaf-dumb-and-blind boy becoming the new Messiah to a pinball-crazed population, and the film has been accused of being too literal to The Who's rock opera source material. In this age of lavish music videos, it has also been tagged as archaic. Though nobody seems to care anymore how a film was perceived in its time, I would say the picture still succeeds in doing what was originally intended: shake an audience up with freaky visuals and propulsive music (nicely arranged). It also does something else: creates actual characters from the music, a plus due in part to the fine acting of Ann-Margret as Tommy's glamorous mother, Roger Daltrey as Tommy, Oliver Reed as Tommy's stepfather (Reed is hammy but quite game, while the role is designed as both a villain and a hero), and Tina Turner, an extremely scary presence as the Acid Queen. "Tommy" has some bummer scenes, and Russell's love for degradation occasionally made me wince, but it is a real cinematic experience. Whether it involves or alienates the viewer depends on their appreciation for the English director's constant penchant for the bizarre. **1/2 from ****
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