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Quadrophenia
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Reviews & Ratings for
Quadrophenia More at IMDbPro »

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52 out of 62 people found the following review useful:

life's core brutally and artfully revealed - 10+++

10/10
Author: (delphivagi@aol.com) from Oviedo, FL
12 August 2002

What a wonderful film. If you ever thought you were safe, or that your world was impregnable, then you must see this film. Watch as every important elements of a young man's (Jimmy's) life is stripped away, piece by piece, until he has no anchor, no magnet, and no direction in life.

Without his familiar crutches (hooliganism, drugs, girlfriends, Mod clansmen, job, parents, home and 'scooter'), Jimmy is faced with a terrifying realization that he - alone - must completely rebuild and reinvent himself.

In a way that is hard to describe in words, director Franc Roddam exposes the raw core of life, unadorned by all the temporal things by which we measure success, worth and happiness. Better still, he forces the viewer to examine the very definition of 'a life'.

The movie generates ever increasing momentum, culminating in one of the most intensely disturbing realizations ever captured on film, with the white cliffs of Dover as the foreground, and the The Who's equally monumental and haunting "Love Reign O'er Me" in the background.

With the possible exception of Bill Murray's version of "The Razor's Edge", this is about as perfect a chance as we are ever afforded to examine the foundations of our own lives (...what more can you ask of a film?). Though this is not an uncommon cinematic theme, it has never been so brilliantly achieved.

An emotional and spiritual tour de force, and simply one of the best films ever made.

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45 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

An underrated masterpiece

Author: Mutant-2 from Portsmouth, England
16 January 1999

One of the main criticisms at the time "Quadrophenia" came out was that it was noisy and violent rubbish. Quite how this opinion was ever formed is puzzling because the film I saw was a brilliant realistic portrayal of a mod in the 60's. The film has directorial flair, an excellent soundtrack and some underrated scripting and performances. It perfectly captures the angst and disillusionment of its protaganist to a level that has never been seen on film before or since.

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34 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

The British Rebel Without A Cause...

8/10
Author: Peter Hayes from United Kingdom
4 October 2002

A young man joins the British mod movement and gains a feeling of belonging and importance, but this makes him even more disenfranchised from his boring 9 to 5 life.

Britain's answer to Rebel Without A Cause is based around a fair-to-middling Who concept album (they financed the movie too) and was made on a modest budget, but has far too much going for it to be ignored. Especially if you are working class and come from the UK.

(How it is viewed elsewhere is beyond my telling, but reading reviews on this site I get the impression that people from all over the world can relate to its central themes - even if the locations and accents are alien.)

Director Franc Roddam was smart enough to cast a young Phil Daniels in the central role of Jimmy. Daniels is a good actor, but he is neither smooth or particularly good looking. This prevents him being accused of glamorising some of the things that he gets up to.

Jimmy is, indeed, also a bit naive. He has a boring job in the post room of an advertising agency (note the satire about pushing smoking - this is the "no health warning" 60's!) and rides around on a scooter with lots of lights on the front.

Life, for him, is about getting through the day and partying at night/weekends to the hip sounds of the day - the non-Who soundtrack album is a taster to mid 60's Brit Pop.

(His parents don't understand him either - but this could be taken as read in this style of movie!)

As most of us know, and a few even tell Jimmy in the movie proper: Life cannot be all parties, cheap thrills and gang fights, but he doesn't seem to want to listen. He is one of the world's great "there must be more to life than this" merchants - in this he is right, but you need to be brighter, better educated or better looking to have it.

There is a good cast of British new wavers on show here: Leslie Ash plays Jimmy's love interest and Sting gets to be the "Ace Face" - the good looking top dog mod that Jimmy wants to be. The home truth about this character leaves Jimmy even more exposed.

Quadrophenia is one of the greatest films about being a teenager ever made and thank god we have video cassettes, DVDs and cable/sat TV so people can actually see it. A low budget classic that deserves to seen at least once by all film buffs and several times if it reflects your life in any way.

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25 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Excellent

10/10
Author: Wayne Malin (wwaayynnee51@hotmail.com) from United States
29 June 2001

I hated this film when I saw it as a teenager back in 1979. The reason was the movie was realistic--too realistic! I identified (in some respects) with the main character Jimmy, and his life was bleak and depressing. Seeing it over 20 years later, I love it! It's a superb mix of the 1960s British "Angry Young Men" films, the Who's great album and 1979 sensibilities. It's about Jimmy (excellent performance by Phil Daniels) and his friends. It takes place in 1964 London and there are constant battles between the Mods (Jimmy and friends) and the Rockers. The film is full of violence, sex, VERY strong language (good luck with the accents), anger, alienation...the works. However, there is a strong sense of humor (a break in at a drug store is hilarious) and it does have a (sort of) happy ending. But it is very dark and depressing.

The music score is excellent. It's not just the Who, but other 1960s groups are used also. The direction by Franc Roddam is wonderful--it perfectly merges the music, imagery and story (especially with "Love, Reign Over Me"). My only real complaint--why not use the whole album "Quadrophenia"? Only about 1/8 of the two record set is used! Also interesting to see Sting in his first movie. Don't miss this one!

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30 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Not only a great adaptation of The Who's landmark, but one of the greatest motorcycle movies ever made.

Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
14 August 2004

Franc Roddam, the director of Quadrophenia, did not disappoint me with his interpretation of The Who's rock opera (unlike Tommy, which had it's moments but didn't was all over the map so to speak). He lets a viewer, who may not be entirely familiar to what occurred between the mods and the rockers in the early to mid 1960's Britain, in on what the energy, the attitudes were like among the young and old. It's not even classifiable as a rock opera as a film, because it becomes a hybrid- it's part motorcycle flick, with some well staged, intense fight scenes, rumbles, riots, etc; it's part anti-establishmentarianist take on what it's like to be at an age when you don't know what to do you with your life, and outside of the pleasures of being with friends and kicking' ass you tend to be aimless or work for people you don't like. It's also, major in fact, a psychological character study of one of these anti-establishment kids, a mod named Jimmy (Phil Daniels), who may be a little off balance in the head due to a fueling desire to be both with the excitement of his gang and with his need to find himself by himself, as well as to the "blues" pills.

There isn't as much of a story as there is character development, which sticks true to the source material, written by the clever and driving force of The Who, Pete Townsend. As Jimmy goes through parties, fights, a little love with a girl (Steph, played well by Leslie Ash), a riot, and problems with his parents and job, he enters a downward spiral. This is a tricky sort of story and character to pull off, because lay it on too thick and the audience could see the character as naive (and perhaps the character is, which makes sense in a sense), but add on the toughness and one-dimensional side of the biker attitude and it becomes a B-movie motorcycle flick. This doesn't happen.

Somehow the elements come together in the film, with the performances (by the way, Sting's debut performance is both mysterious and, ultimately, kinda funny), the documentary-style direction and editing (by Brian "Trainspotting" Tefano), and the music. The Who themselves serve as musical directors, and it's highly interesting for both Who and non-Who fans in how they choose only parts of songs sometimes (Punk and the Godfather, Dr. Jimmy) and leave some out completely (Sea and Sand, Drowned, two songs I hoped would've made the final cut). By the time the third act reaches it's heated peak, the music starts to perfectly embody what the character's going through. It also doesn't come off as cheesy due to the power of the songs.

Maybe I might be a little biased in writing this review- when I was around seventeen, eighteen years old, this was my favorite album behind Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced. Besides it containing some of the Who's most daring, somber, and fun work (5:15, Bell Boy, I'm One), the story was something that I could identify with strongly, as its themes are very knowing of what it's like for any guy at that point of crossing the bend from childhood to adulthood. Not to mention it rivaled Tommy in its ambition via the compositions, the entertainment value, etc. So I was almost hesitant to watch the film, as I thought I might have my expectations raised too high and it would be too loosely translated and made as not my kind of rock musical (i.e. like Tommy). For me, the experience was contradictory to what I thought- I ended up learning more about this atmosphere, the essence of living in Brighton by the beach and feeling the need for competition, acceptance, and then anger and loneliness. By the end of Quadrophenia I looked at Jimmy as being a character in the tradition of Humphrey Bogart in Treasure of the Sierra Madre- an anti-hero that may be doomed, but a viewer can still care about him.

Overall, an un-expected treat, and will surely please both Who and non-Who fans alike, though for Who fans the added treat is that the the emotion and strength of the group and songs translate excellently in the film. A+

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19 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

"You've gotta be something, haven't you?"

Author: TC Raymond from England
2 August 2001

One of the finest British films ever made, QUADROPHENIA is a gritty and compelling study of the early 1960s mod phenomenon, originally released in 1979 as bands like The Jam were engineering a comeback of the whole parkas and scooters style fetish. Talk about perfect timing. I was five when all that was happening, and I can still remember seeing vast gangs of teenagers chanting "We are the mods, we are the mods" on their way to school. This film had a huge impact - even moreso when it was screened alongside the harrowing borstal drama SCUM (1978) on one of the all-time greatest double bills. The film tells the story of Jimmy, a slightly paranoid, definitely angst-ridden and certainly hate-fuelled young man desperate to escape his complacent background and low-status job by riding with the local mod contingent. For one reason or another, Jimmy just doesn't fit in. When all his friends have found female companions at a wild party, Jimmy is reduced to smashing up the garden with his scooter to relieve his frustrations. He seems to have a very childish desire to be the centre of attention all the time - when all the girls in the ballroom are admiring the 'Ace Face', Jimmy takes a potentially fatal dive off the balcony and into the crowd below. The only time he feels like one of the crowd is when he is part of the huge, bloodthirsty throng of mods who converge on Brighton one weekend with a view to beating up as many rockers as possible and causing a vast amount of criminal damage. But when he returns to London, his life falls apart, and the final half-hour or so is absolutely riveting in its unflinching study of a very confused Jimmy finally coming apart at the seams. All the performances are top notch, and the film whips along at a devastating pace, fuelled by the Who's wonderful soundtrack and Franc Roddam's energetic direction. Despite a couple of anachronisms (notice the double reissue of 'The Who Sell Out'/'A Quick One' in the party scene, long before either album was even recorded!) this is a striking and vivid evocation of a time and place that remains frighteningly relevant today. SEE IT.

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14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Near-perfect illustration of a music masterpiece

9/10
Author: (pete.townshend@gmx.net) from Gilching, Outback of Germany
27 February 2005

First, as you perhaps can tell by my name, I'm a die-hard The Who fan and have been for a long time. Listening to the original Quadrophenia rock opera is almost a religious act for me. I also have to add that I was born in 1984, and the sixties for me are some kind of paradise perished forever. I had to wait several years after listening to the album before seeing the movie. During the first half hour, I was disappointed how few of the music was in it, but then the movie began to fascinate me by itself, it really dragged me in. This is mostly due to the great Phil Daniels. It is his portrait of Jim that really keeps the film alive. He *is* the mod of the sixties, he shows in every single scene why they were mods and why it couldn't last. The other actors also do a good job, nothing spectacular, but solid. Sting is entertaining, too. There are several changes in the story compared to the "Quadrophenia" CD booklet, but they make sense and work well. It would have been interesting to stay still closer to the rock opera, but, regarding that, when the movie was made, more than a decade had passed since the time depicted, it is understandable that the movie makers wouldn't want to go totally "musical" as in the pathetic "Tommy" film. "Quadrophenia", in my opinion, is better than "Tommy" because the story isn't torn to pieces and then mixed with tons of whatever they had left on the cutting room floor; it is a coherent line of events with the songs put in in the right moment (except, perhaps, for the divine "Love reign o'er me"). Over all, the movie really thrilled me. It is a very good adaptation of the rock opera, but also a great youth film in its own right. Call it cult if you don't like it, it has deserved it.

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13 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Classic tale of teen rebellion

Author: planet_mamoo from Canada
16 May 2004

This is a fabulous movie that goes far beyond the usual one-dimensional teenager- struggles-with-society's-conformity tale. In it, the main character, Jimmy, has got a good job but which seems pointless to him. He's a member of a posse of "Mods," a mid-sixties image- group that included quasi-Beatles-style clothes and haircuts, the use of Vespa scooters, and of course sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Jimmy hates the conformity as symbolized by his TV-watching, emotionally-detached parents and dreads the prospect of becoming an ice-cold working stiff. Bus as time passes he begins to squirm in the conformity imposed by being a Mod, a conformity so ruthless it costs him a friendship.

Everything that seems to be a key to happiness, whether it's romance with Steph, a beautiful member of his posse, or taking part in a kind of "Mod Woodstock," or adoring the "King of the Mods" (played perfectly by Sting), or even just trying to escape it all aboard his trusty Vespa, becomes a dead end of conformity.

Throughout the movie, his frustration is building, and he can't figure out why. In the end, he finally realizes the source of his anguish, and, without giving anything away, addresses the heart of the matter.

Excellent performances in this movie (though the accents will be downright impenetrable for some viewers), great directing, strong writing, and of course it marvelously portrays the Mod lifestyle. All the groups shown in the movie can be taken as symbols for just about any community you could think of.

Best of all, the soundtrack is superb. Unfortunately, you can't really get the sense of it just watching the movie, so pick up the CD if you like The Who; it's one of their very best.

Overall, a must-see.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

That's why I'm a Mod see, because I don't want to be like everyone else.

9/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
4 March 2008

As the years have wore on, Quadrophenia has broken free of tagged cult classic status to emerge as a bona fide candidate for best British youth movie ever. The iconography of its main protagonist has subsided to let the core sensibility of the movies theme shine thru, this is pure and simple a perfect depiction of fallen youth during a heady time, a tale of ones ideology crumbling so sadly over the course of one weekend.

The period is captured vividly by director Franc Roddam, the stark threat of violence mixed in with the best music the 60s had to offer, serves to let the viewer feel they were there at the time, and the result is a perfect period piece. The story follows Jimmy {a tremendous Phil Daniels} on a voyage of discovery that is funny at times, yet also very sadly tragic, and for anyone who was once a teenager searching for identity and purpose........ then this film will have maximum resonance.

Wonderful 9/10.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Mad Mod

7/10
Author: jc-osms from United Kingdom
11 January 2013

I'm almost finished reading Pete Townshend's autobiography "Who I Am" and have been listening a lot to the Who's original double album of the same name so the time was right to finally watch the big-screen dramatisation of the record. I'm just a bit too young to remember anything about the vicious Mods v Rockers pitched battles at Brighton or the Mod lifestyle (I'm not sure just how far north it made it up to Scotland, it always seemed to me principally a London-based movement).

Nevertheless, the broader themes in the film of the generation gap between teenagers and their parents, the pain of rejection, youthful revolt against authority plus the less intellectual need for young kids to get drunk, drugged, violent and sexed up are universal and seemingly constant, which with the background of great 60's music, made for an engrossing and enjoyable if occasionally challenging watch.

This is Phil Daniel's Jimmy Fenton's worm's eye-view of life in the mid-60's, working in a dead-end job, out of touch with his parents and although on the face of it, there doesn't appear to be much to rebel against, sure enough, he loses his way and his mind as he suffers rejection from his employer, said parents, would-be girlfriend Leslie Ash and after seeing his Mod Hero '"ace-face" played by Sting, meekly conform to society mores carrying bags at a hotel, he gets pushed over the edge (literally). His only way out of the tormenting feelings he's experiencing for the first time sadly involve just a one-way ticket.

The film adopts a realistic, warts and all approach, with no let-up in the levels of bad language used, scenes of drug use (although it is "only" pill-popping "uppers" or "blues" as they're called in the film) and of course the centre-piece of the film, the recreation of the infamous Mods and Rockers "Battle Of Brighton" of 1965. There's some earthy humour though to leaven things, particularly two Mods encounter in the dark with a bunch of sleeping rockers, although one or two stray elements of sentimentality (Jimmy's heart-to- heart with his long-suffering dad, his friendship with an old pal turned rocker) slightly jar. Fan as I am, I could have done too without the too obvious genuflecting to the film's producers The Who (Jimmy putting on the "My Generation" single at a party, then gazing in awe at the band on "Ready Steady Go"), I guess he who pays the piper and all that.

Central to the movie is a superb performance by Daniels as Jimmy, his mood-swings oscillating violently as he takes or comes off his pills, wired to the moon as we say today. His energy and vividness set the tone for the whole film. Interestingly director Franc Roddam (later the creator of "Auf Weidersehn Pet" and, ...er "Masterchef" on TV), changes the ending and placement of songs from the album, but there's no denying the memorable climax to the piece.

In the end I was transported not only back into the era depicted, but more importantly into the head of "helpless dancer" Jimmy and would state that the movie well complements the great album The Who originally released, a rarity in "rock" movies.

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