A musical adaptation of Colin MacInnes' novel about life in late 1950s London. Nineteen-year-old photographer Colin is hopelessly in love with model Crepe Suzette, but her relationships are... See full summary »
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A musical adaptation of Colin MacInnes' novel about life in late 1950s London. Nineteen-year-old photographer Colin is hopelessly in love with model Crepe Suzette, but her relationships are strictly connected with her progress in the fashion world. So Colin gets involved with a pop promoter and tries to crack the big time. Meanwhile, racial tension is brewing in Colin's Notting Hill housing estate... Written by
Michael Brooke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film is based on a novel first published in 1959. One of the incidents portrayed in the story was based on the Notting Hill race riots of August, 1958. See more »
During the riot scenes, in one shot a double decker bus is on fire. In the next shot, it isn't burning. In the next shot, it is. (During the T.V. announcers speak to the viewing public about the 'race riots'). See more »
I remember that hot, wonderful summer. When the teenage miracle reached full bloom and everyone in England stopped what they were doing to stare at what had happened. The Soho nights were cool in the heat, with light and music in the streets. And we couldn't believe that this was really coming to us at last. Nobody knew exactly why. But after so many dreary years of bombs and blitz and slow rebuilding; no sugar, no jam, nothing sweet anywhere; with the whole English ...
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Absolute Beginners was released in 1986, the same year that saw the release of another musical film about the 50s, Little Shop of Horrors. Little Shop is an edgy but camp doo-wop love story. Absolute Beginners is a much edgier, much campier view of society with a romantic back story. Some films that influenced AB are West Side Story (1961), Tommy (1975) and Streets of Fire (1984). Streets of Fire featured a similar story of a girl choosing a rich guy, trading the streets for security, against a backdrop of urban nightlife and confrontation, set to the lush music of the 50s and later.
But the film AB reminds me of the most is One from the Heart (1982), Coppola's sound stage masterpiece. AB employs the same kind of stylish presentation, with sets bathed in primary colors and moody shadows, and camera movement that flows through the sets or insinuates itself through odd angles or unique perspectives.
AB is very ambitious. With a talented cast of actors, singers and dancers, it reflects on the "invention of the teenager" in America, the search for monetary success and the "inevitable" selling out, the gentrification of London and its racial implications, criticism of capitalism through its (supposedly) representative advertising and marketing industries, and the proliferation of hate groups, especially those grounded in racial prejudice.
But the music is what drives this film and it is worth seeing for the music alone. David Bowie, Ray Davies and Sade--among many others--are showcased on a soundtrack that includes 50s rock influences from rockabilly to punk.
AB stresses style over substance, but there is plenty to think about. I think repeated viewings would reveal more and more as this film is dense with imagery and dialogue.
Watch for the beautiful Patsy Kensit playing Suzette. And the credits show that Bruno Tonioli (Dancing with the Stars) plays a Maltese lodger--something fun to look for.
It is also fun to note the 50s references in the film. For example, a hula hoop. And the coffee shop beat scene.
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