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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jimmy Cooper works the daily grind in the mail room of a local
advertising firm. It is a dreary and lowly position and one that offers
him nothing that he wants from life. In stark contrast, being part of
the Mod scene offers him identity, acceptance, attention and the chance
to "be somebody". The big weekend down in Brighton beckons, with all
the fun that comes with it, not to mention the chance of a run in with
some rockers and Jimmy continues to live at night while suffering
through the working day.
It was with some surprise and an element of disgust that my colleague reacted when I simply said "you know, I've never seen Quadrophenia" so I figured that I should probably make a bit of time to see what is considered a classic of modern British cinema. Watching it I found an interesting film that successfully mixes characters with a convincing sense of time and place. It is worth me saying that I'm too young (and from Northern Ireland) so I have no knowledge of this scene or time but the few aging Mods I know assure me that it is not a million miles off the wider experiences. So for me it serves as a snapshot of a time that has since moved on and has become more of a minor fashion statement than a "scene" but it is the strength of the film that the themes and characters are what keeps the film relevant regardless.
Specifically of course this is evident in the troubled and confused (Chr1st I'm middle-aged) youth Jimmy. The film convincingly portrays his neediness to be part of something to define himself, the joy of being there, the acting-out that comes when even within his group he is left out and the emotional collapse that comes when he fails to find anything to find the joy of being part of the mob in Brighton. It is a well observed and surprisingly honest and critical depiction of the character and of the wider struggle of youth. To me this is the core of the film and it is a solid piece of character drama, written with a real understanding of the feelings of those of this age. The period stuff is obviously very important too and the look, feel and soundtrack are all really well done and very enjoyable if you have any affection for any part of this culture (and I do for the music).
Daniels leads the cast really well with a performance that makes the film and delivers on the content in the script. He is a tragic and sympathetic figure and I imagine that many viewers will have some experiences that can make them connect with his turn. He is well supported by less well developed characters but still solid performances from a host of British acting talent. Ash is not brilliant but is OK and has not been in anything better since. Davis, Sting, Winstone, Elphick and others all support well but mostly the film belongs to Daniels and his performance is worthy of this responsibility. Writer/director Roddam pulls it altogether really well (some of it almost feels like news footage), with memorable images and shots, although it is hard to forget that his recent world has not really lived up to the standard he set early (unless you happen to be a big Master Chef fan, in which case he has).
Overall then this is an enjoyable but yet also impacting portrayal of the pain of passing from youth to adult. The convincing delivery of period and place only serves to make it better and, while this may date it, the strength of the character and of Daniels' delivery keeps it relevant and engaging almost thirty years later.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jimmy is a mod in sixties London. He wears a parka, rides a Lambretta
scooter, listens to The Who and gets into gang-fights with rival
rockers. He reckons he's a face, but when he gets tired of fitting in,
getting loaded with his mates, fighting with his parents and his
girlfriend slutting around, he has some hard decisions to make.
This is a pretty good teenage angst movie, a kind of nineteen-sixties British version of Rebel Without A Cause or Pump Up The Volume. The backdrop is fairly unique - London and Brighton in 1964, as the mod movement was just peaking and burning out, and the movie does an excellent job of recreating the times, especially the notorious beach-fights. Although an original movie script, it's inspired by The Who's classic 1973 concept album and its story by Pete Townshend and book photography by Ethan A. Russell. For me it has some great moments when the music is playing, albeit briefly, such as when Jimmy stares at the canal and Townshend sings I'm One. Where it runs out of steam for me is the kitchen-sink drama, which is played okay, but is pretty boring. Daniels is good in the lead as the likably unlikeable Jimmy, and Elphick and Winstone give good support, but the rest of the cast aren't very exciting, with the exception of a young Sting as the iconic Ace Face. When Jimmy's on the move or thinking things through it's good, but his lame antics with his buddies and brainless rows with Steph are kinda tedious. An interesting flick nonetheless, with a cult following and a terrific soundtrack. Shot in Brighton and around Shepherd's Bush, Acton and Wembley in west London, where The Who all grew up. For a better movie of a record by The Who, check out Ken Russell's Tommy instead.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Directed by Franc Roddam and produced by The Who, this partnership
brings us one of most grittiest and realistic movies of the late
1970's, set in London during the Swinging Sixties at the height of the
clash of the two dominating working class subculture's: Mod's and
Rocker's. During their heyday, the Mods and Rockers would converge in
the Seaside town of Brighton, and their differences would end in
The Who were the biggest Mod band during the sixties, feeding off each other for inspiration's, such as dance moves and fashion's for example's. What they also had in common were the use of drug's, both the Mod's and The Who would be taking Speed, a drug that would help keep them awake and hyperactive far longer than the body and mind could sometimes cope.
After the sixties had ended and the Mods and Rockers had passed away and other fads, fashions and ideals had emerged during the Glam Rock day's of the early Seventies, The Who produced a concept album, the reminiscent: Quadrophenia. A double vinyl album that came out in 1973, and the story being about Jimmy the Mod. Being a mental condition similar to schizophrenia, were the illness is spilt into two traits, the Quadrophenia sufferer has a four way split, though not hearing voices as such, but still a mental degeneration in it's own right. Jimmy, who is the recipient of this condition, due to the over use of the drugs and booze that his working class life style dictates.
As time went by, the late '70's had arrived and The Who were delving into movie production. Quadrophenia the movie had arrived. Starring up and coming English actresses and actor's as Phil Daniels as Jimmy, Leslie Ash as Steph and Toyah Wilcox as Monkey. This movie, too, contains some of the most realistic and extremely harsh language that I have heard in a movie, the London locations are great as well as the wonderful scooters that are ridden by these pilled-up Wild Ones, very nostalgic. To see Jimmy and his two mates riding along Tower Bridge late at night to score drugs for the Brighton meet is, well, nice.
The musical score is as you would expect from a Who soundtrack: Thunderous and poignant, and Townsends' lyrics' delving into the troubled mindset of this young protagonist as a Physiatrist that delves and then reports his findings to his audience.
During the opening scene a silhouette of Jimmy walking back up from the cliff tops is seen. You have to remember that the movie is of Jimmy the boy, the boy who is betrayed by his best friend, his girlfriend and let down by his parents. To make his life more incomplete he loses his job, then he trashes his scooter, and his Mod hero "Face" turns out to be just another ordinary guy working for "The Man", a sheep in wolfs clothing. To the end of the movie he steals the Faces scooter, rides along the cliff tops and throws it over the side. He has finally grown up, he's had enough. The irony is that being a Mod is not to be like anyone else, to be different from the heard. To be able to grow up is to also conform, to a higher level of responsibility, to also be different and individual.
To be Adult.
"Quadrophenia" is a movie that is based in part on the album of the
same name by The Who. It also was co-written by Pete Townshend and some
of the executive producers included the four members of the band. It's
set in the early-mid 1960s in England and concerns Jimmy and his group
of 'Mod' friends. The Mods were well before my time but apparently they
liked to dress stylishly, drive mopeds and tended towards R&B instead
of popular rock 'n roll. Also, the Mods in this film are mostly angry,
directionless and seem in many ways like precursors to the punks of the
1970s--though with a much greater fashion sense. Plus, I really cannot
imagine punks riding around in motor scooters. But, they both seemed to
share a love of violence, drugs and anger.
As far as the plot goes, the film is much like the Mods--rather directionless. This isn't a complaint and the film deliberately chose to show the lack of structure and anger of the Mods. For the most part, these teens drink, fight, take amphetamines, listen to music and stay up all night. Jimmy seems to be among the angriest and most likely to get himself killed. Later in the film, Jimmy and his blokes head to Brighton for a holiday and mayhem ensues. Exactly what happens, you'll need to see for yourself.
As I said above, how much you like the film will depend a lot on you. If you grew up at the same time and place as these hooligans, then perhaps you'll have a feeling of nostalgia watching it. As for me, although the film was well made, it was also unpleasant and I got a bit tired of all the pointlessly angry and disaffected youth. It just wasn't my thing and it's hard to love a film where you cannot stand any of the characters.
A few final observations: I don't think it was unintentional that the leading man, Jimmy, sure looked quite a bit like Townshend. The film sure could have used captions. I saw it on HULU and had to really pay attention to get what they were saying due to the accents. There's also a bit of male frontal nudity--though considering all the violence and anger, I doubt if it's a film you'd show your mom or your kids! Also, the music was very nice--the best part of the film, really.
This film is one of the greater social commentaries of the 60's, for all it's capturing of the mods & rockers; however, what people seem to forget is that it contains (although NOT complete) one of the greatest rock albums of all time. Sadly, it was decided not to use the album in it's entireity, though the film could have benefited from that. For instance, including "Cut my Hair" might have added a dimension which is sorely lacking in the film. While Phil Daniels carries the film and is an obvious alter ego of Pete Townshend's, without the full extent of this very important album, the film vacillates between being very important and very misunderstood. It does not need to be the latter. The album is extremely accessible and, moreover, articulate about the entire experience of being young, misunderstood and alienated. The film almost reaches the album's level, but doesn't quite accomplish it. Only a full listening to the double album, back to back (or if you were lucky enough to catch the band's complete live performance of it, complete with narration by Phil Daniels in '97) will ever do the true fan justice. This is a great idea, which is extremely difficult to execute, even with the best intentions. My vote: watch this movie only after you're very familiar with the album. Otherwise, unless you grew up in the 60's in London, you won't undergo the visceral feelings necessary to truly appreciate this experience - and it is an EXPERIENCE!!!
I first saw Quadrophenia in a cinema in the early 80s. Its a great story with really good actors and of course a great soundtrack. Franc Roddam managed a brilliant transition from a - what we call a Themenalbum in German, don't know the right English translation..an album with an ongoing story, into a movie. I hardly ever saw a movie that managed to catch the problems of an adolescent that good. Today its funny to see Sting as a rebellious youth, but he did great as all actors did. Its a rather atmospheric movie and a real must for those who are interested in the 60s.
This is a film that has stayed with me throughout my life. It was a film I grew up with and has always been a film close to my heart. Quadrophenia is the story of Jimmy, a mod who rides fast on his lambretta and lives faster fuelled by drugs, drink and a huge ego. Back in the 1970's Quadrophenia was a mere idea of musical rebellion on vinyl. Later with Franc Roddam (who later directed "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet") they brought flesh and blood to a now legendary rock opera to the big screen. With key British talent playing the youth of tomorrow, Quadrophenia the movie was born. No-one at the time knew what cult classic it would become later in life but it has and will forever be. Quadrophenia is a movie where you can relate to the characters and you feel you are right with them through all the loud parties and the runs on the scooters right up to the fights and the arguments. Jimmy is after being the "face" the leader of the mods and as we journey through this film we can see that his wish may be the nightmare that he doesn't want. Filled with anger and hate, Jimmy's world slowly begins to crumble, he stands to lose everything that he holds dear to his heart. His world of delusions is dragging him kicking and screaming back to the real world. Phil Daniels gives a heartwarming performance as Jimmy that makes you believe exactly what the character is going through and makes you eventually sympathise with Jimmy. Ray Winstone is great and sometimes funny as his mate Kevin who has a new surprise for Jimmy. It's good to see Two of the cream of London Cockney's working together in a film that boasts the old trait of MADE IN Britain. The first time that they worked together was as rivals in the brutally realistic movie SCUM. I'd love to see another movie with these two sparring off against each other. Toyah "it's a mystery" Wilcox does a star turn in this as the girl who wants to get off with Jimmy, Dave Wingett makes you laugh as Dave, Jimmy's best mate, Phillip Davis provides some laughs as Chalky (check out the scene in the chemist) Leslie Ash does well in the role as Steph, the girl who Jimmy wants, and Sting as the face of the mods who Jimmy tries to outstage in Brighton. Backed by The Who's rocktastic soundtrack, Quadrophenia is a movie about what it's like to think you're somebody when you ain't and then get brought back to reality with a thud. The spectacular ending to this is the cream on top of this cult classic soufflé with the song that perfectly compliments the final scene sung with gusto by Roger Daltrey "I'VE HAD ENOUGH" which clearly words exactly what is going through Jimmy's mind at that particular point of the film. My advice is see it now if you haven't seen it before someone spoils the ending for you. Can you see the real me.......can ya?.........CAN YA?!!!
The Mods v. Rockers thing draws from "The Wild One", but plainly this
is a direct descendant of Truffaut's "Les Quatre Cents Coups".
Visually, this is evident from the rooftop camera angles, and
narratively, in the youth at bay for being unable to conform to 'the
The Who's double album was rather ambitious stuff...an arena rock opera that is about the Mod scene from ten years earlier, but without the slightest hint of retro-rock. Townshend and Co. ultimately stated that they were dissatisfied with the album.
But, enter the UK's 'New Wave' revival of Mod affectations in the late 70s, marry this to Truffaut's 'New Wave' film-making, and you have a worthy reinvention of the project.
The lyrical 'concept' is a manic-depressive youth who self-medicates, with bad results...the movie is imagined as a youth who chafes against the 'movie world'; that is, a world of actors playing 'actors' playing roles...and the youth is the only one who can't handle the dissonance when the other actors drop their facades, i.e., Sting appearing to be a rebel, the girl appearing to be a genuine love interest. Cinematically, it works quite well.
What held this back, I think, is the dubbing in of the music from '73, which is so out of place, the result is a complete thematic mish-mash. Roddam should have taken the approach that was used in the '75 "Tommy" all-star musical; that is, to cut all ties with the extant music, and record period reinterpretations to fit in with the visual and narrative components.
Tommy was a total waste of film and Lifehouse is only a dream in the
back of Pete Townshend's mind, so what do Who fans have in the way of
rock opera films? Quadrophenia. This was my favorite Who album and I
was anxious to see how it would be brought to life. From Townshend's
sprawling, philosophical album, Franc Roddam brings about a real story.
This tale of teenage angst is not for everybody. But for anyone who has
experienced feeling lost and helpless, not really knowing where to go
or what to do with your life, this is for you. If you've ever enjoyed
the Who's rock music and want some stunning visuals to go along with
it, this is for you. If you want to know what it REALLY feels like to
be young again, then this is for you.
Phil Daniels gives the film's best performance as the tortured Jimmy, torn between doing things the way he always has and the growing emptiness inside of him. He's dedicated to his mod friends, but is repeatedly let down by them and his way of life.
It's not a flawless film, but it is the best example of a rock opera movie adaptation, and it keeps in the spirit of the brilliant Quadrophenia album.
Transport yourself back to the mod days. Don your parka, polish your Vespa, break out the French blues and grab your copy of "My Generation", because this is an incredible trip.
I'm about as old as Sting is now.
When I was the age of the kids in this film, in my area of the world, we had two groups of kids, and you were either one or the other, unless you were a total loser, or just didn't care. In the movie, Jimmy and his crew were the mods; we had what were called the "baldies", because of the close-cropped hair. I placed my allegiance with the baldies. We wore what would be called "preppie" attire now: khaki trousers, button-down collar "Gant" shirts with the little loops in the back, high-polished leather oxfords in shell or wingtip styles, v-neck sweaters, and belts with big round buckles. The shoes were important in that the soles were heavy enough to inflict some damage in a fight. The shirts and trousers had to be perfectly pressed, and the shoes spit-shined. Yes, to any self-respecting baldie, appearance was extremely high on the list of importance. It was all about image, you see. Favorite baldie smoke: "boros"; favorite beverage: malt liquor.
In place of the rockers, we had the "greasers", for obvious reasons. Very similar to the rockers portrayed in the movie, with their black leather jackets, engineer boots, denims, and early Elvis-type hair. The greasers were more of your lower or lower middle class working kids, while the baldies were generally in a higher economic class. Music-wise, the baldies went for the Beatles, Stones and other British groups; the rockers hung onto Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. Your typical greaser smoked Camels and drank Grain Belt beer, or booze.
Others had mentioned "The Outsiders". If I remember correctly, in that film, the "Soc's" (pronounced "sowshuz) equated with the mods/baldies, but I can't recall what the rockers/greasers were called. Anyone?
I guess the point is that all young men go through this stuff, to varying degrees, all over the place. You have that dangerous period where you are not a little kid anymore but not yet a man, the hormones are screaming, you think your parents are the stupidest people on earth, you HAVE to make sure you get your share. You desperately need to prove your manhood, because you're not a man and you're insecure about that whole deal. So you fight, to measure yourself against the next guy. And your buds are much more important to you than your parents.
The Vespas in the movie were something we didn't have around here: more car-oriented, though the greasers did have their Harley's. If there was a popular bike, it would have been the Honda 50! Sort of shows you how old and decrepit I am now.
I really was blown away when I first saw the film. Seemed real raw and honest, and loved the "Britishness" of the whole thing. But we could all totally relate, because as you see, the English kids were alot like us.
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