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Absolute Beginners (1986)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Fantasy, Musical  |  18 April 1986 (USA)
5.5
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 2,124 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 12 critic

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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Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Eddie O'Connell ...
Colin, Photographer / Narrator
...
...
Henley of Mayfair, Dressmaker to the Queen
...
Arthur, Colin's Dad
Mandy Rice-Davies ...
Flora
Eve Ferret ...
Big Jill
Tony Hippolyte ...
Mr. Cool
Graham Fletcher-Cook ...
Wizard
Joseph McKenna ...
Fabulous Hoplite (as Joe McKenna)
...
The Fanatic
...
Athene Duncannon (as Sade Adu)
...
Ed the Ted (as Tenpole Tudor)
...
Flikker
Alan Freeman ...
Call-Me-Cobber
Edit

Storyline

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 <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Welcome to the world of your dreams! See more »


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 April 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Absolutamente Principiantes  »

Box Office

Gross:

$930,211 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

| (Rankcolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

After submitting the film for a 15 certificate producer Stephen Woolley was contacted by the BBFC and told that Patsy Kensit had revealed a nipple in one of the film's scenes. Despite Woolley's assurance that this was not the case because Kensit had been insistent during filming about not revealing her body, UK censor James Ferman painstakingly trawled through the movie using a BBFC "freeze frame" machine until he was finally convinced that the original information was incorrect. Only then did he grant the film an uncut certificate. See more »

Goofs

When Harry Charms is auditioning young singers with Colin, there is a boom mic visible when Harry and Colin first enter the studio. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Colin: [narrating] 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 ...
See more »

Connections

References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Boogie Stop Shuffle (The Rough and the Smooth
Written by Charles Mingus
Performed by Gil Evans
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A stylish, ambitious film
1 June 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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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