London, 1965: Like many other youths, Jimmy hates the philistine life, especially his parents and his job in a company's mailing division. Only when he's together with his friends, a 'Mod' clique, cruising London on his motor-scooter and hearing music such as that of 'The Who' and 'The High Numbers', does he feel free and accepted. However, it's a flight into an illusionary world.
Director Franc Roddam has brought us an array of young British acting talents who bring back London's nineteen-sixties Mods and Rockers. Set against the soundtrack of The Who's 1973 mighty concept album "Quadrophenia", Phil Daniels plays working-class Jimmy, the drug-induced Mod, who hates his job and is misunderstood by his parents. But by night, he comes alive, with the all-nighters, his pills and his scooter-riding friends. Always on a high, life can't get any better. Then there's the Brighton scooter run, where both Mods and Rockers converge, ending in the battle of the cults on Brighton Beach. What goes up must come down, and with Jimmy's come-down, his life is turned around, and so begins his downward spiral into paranoia and isolation, and the four-faceted mindset: Quadrophenia. With its extremely realistic language, violent overtones and classic sixties soundtrack, this illness is bound to be contagious. Come along for the ride.
In 1960s London Jimmy, loathing his dead-end job and dead-end parents, lives for his scooter and his Mod mates. August Bank Holiday in Brighton looks like it will be great, with a chance to see his Vespa-riding hero Ace, do battle with the Rockers, and maybe get lucky with Steph. Sadly, after the weekend, reality and disppointments crowd in all the more.
Jimmy loathes his job and parents. He seeks solace with his mod clique, scooter riding, and drugs only to be disappointed.
- The film, set in 1964, follows the life of Jimmy Cooper (Phil Daniels), a young London Mod. Disillusioned by his parents and a dull job as a post room boy in an advertising firm, Jimmy finds an outlet for his teenage angst by taking amphetamines, partying, riding scooters and brawling with Rockers, accompanied by his Mod friends Dave (Mark Wingett), Chalky (Philip Davis) and Spider (Gary Shail). One of the Mods' rivals, the Rockers, is in fact Jimmy's childhood friend, Kevin (Ray Winstone). An attack by hostile Rockers on Spider leads to a retaliation attack on Kevin. Jimmy participates in the beating, but when he realises the victim is Kevin, he doesn't help him, instead driving away on his scooter.
A bank holiday weekend provides the excuse for the rivalry between Mods and Rockers to come to a head, as they both descend upon the seaside town of Brighton. A series of running battles ensues. As the police close in on the rioters, Jimmy escapes down an alleyway with Steph (Leslie Ash) a girl on whom he has a crush and they have sex. When the pair emerge, they find themselves in the middle of the melee just as police are detaining rioters. Jimmy is arrested, detained with a volatile, popular Mod he calls 'Ace Face' (Sting), and later fined the then-large sum of £50. When fined £75, Ace Face mocks the magistrate by offering to pay on the spot with a cheque, to the amusement of the fellow Mods.
Back in London, Jimmy becomes severely depressed. He is thrown out of his house by his mother, who finds his stash of amphetamine pills. He then quits his job, spends his severance package on more pills, and finds out that Steph has become the girlfriend of his friend Dave. After a brief fight with Dave, the following morning his rejection is confirmed by Steph and with his beloved Lambretta scooter accidentally destroyed in a crash, Jimmy takes a train back to Brighton. In an attempt to relive the recent excitement, he revisits the scenes of the riots and of his encounter with Steph. To his horror, Jimmy discovers that his idol, Ace Face, is in reality an undistinguished bellboy at a Brighton hotel. Jimmy steals Ace's scooter and heads out to Beachy Head, where he rides perilously close to the cliff edge. Finally, he crashes the scooter over a cliff, which is where the film begins, with Jimmy walking back from the cliff top in the sunset back drop.