Absolute Beginners (1986)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Fantasy, Musical  |  18 April 1986 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 5.5/10 from 2,257 users  
Reviews: 39 user | 18 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 »



, (developer), 4 more credits »
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In 1942 British soldier Jack Celliers comes to a Japanese prison camp. The camp is run by Yonoi, who has a firm belief in discipline, honor and glory. In his view, the allied prisoners are ... See full summary »

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto
The Hunger (1983)
Fantasy | Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The Egyptian vampire lady Miriam subsists upon the blood of her lovers. In return the guys or girls don't age... until Miriam has enough of them. Unfortunately that's currently the case ... See full summary »

Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Susan Sarandon
Comedy | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Ed Okin's life is somewhat out of control. He can't sleep, his wife betrays him and his job is dull. One night he starts to drive through Los Angeles and he finally ends in the parking ... See full summary »

Director: John Landis
Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Michelle Pfeiffer, Stacey Pickren
Sci-Fi | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Thomas Jerome Newton is a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet. He starts a high technology company to get the billions of dollars he needs to build a return ... See full summary »

Director: Nicolas Roeg
Stars: David Bowie, Rip Torn, Candy Clark
Just a Gigolo (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

After World War I, a war hero returns to Berlin to find that there's no place for him--he has no skills other than what he learned in the army, and can only find menial, low-paying jobs. He decides to become a gigolo to lonely rich women.

Director: David Hemmings
Stars: David Bowie, Sydne Rome, Kim Novak
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Two disgruntled restaurant employees (David Bowie, Rosanna Arquette) decide to rob their employers (Buck Henry, Andre Gregory).

Director: Richard Shepard
Stars: Rosanna Arquette, David Bowie, Eszter Balint
B.U.S.T.E.D (1999)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Two toughs from the wrong side of the tracks in Manchester, choose different paths when they are released from prison. The quiet Ray wants out of the 'gangsta' life and into the local music... See full summary »

Director: Andrew Goth
Stars: Rachel Shelley, Clint Dyer, David Baker
Matador (1986)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An ex-bullfighter who gets turned on by killing, a lady lawyer with the same fetish and a young man driven insane by his religious upbringing - these are the main characters in this stylish... See full summary »

Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Stars: Assumpta Serna, Antonio Banderas, Nacho Martínez
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Best friends and their daughters holiday in Rio only for one to fall for the other's daughter.

Director: Stanley Donen
Stars: Michael Caine, Michelle Johnson, Demi Moore
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Sexual revelations emerge when a group of academics and their partners spend a weekend at a country retreat.

Director: Denys Arcand
Stars: Dominique Michel, Dorothée Berryman, Louise Portal
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A doctor, scientist, organist, and biblical scholar, Dr. Anton Phibes, seeks revenge on the nine doctors he considers responsible for his wife's death.

Director: Robert Fuest
Stars: Vincent Price, Joseph Cotten, Hugh Griffith
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A mercenary goes after his ex-girlfriend, a singer who has been kidnapped by a gang.

Director: Walter Hill
Stars: Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis


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 ...
Eve Ferret ...
Big Jill
Tony Hippolyte ...
Mr. Cool
Graham Fletcher-Cook ...
Joseph McKenna ...
Fabulous Hoplite (as Joe McKenna)
The Fanatic
Athene Duncannon (as Sade Adu)
Ed the Ted (as Tenpole Tudor)
Alan Freeman ...


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


Welcome to the world of your dreams! See more »


PG-13 | See all certifications »




Release Date:

18 April 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Absolutamente Principiantes  »

Box Office


$930,211 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)


| (Rankcolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


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 »


[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 »


References The Wind Cannot Read (1958) See more »


Performed and Composed by David Bowie
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A Very British, Pre-"Moulin Rouge" Extravaganza
8 March 2003 | by See all my reviews

Julien Temple's "Absolute Beginners" is probably more well known for it's breathtaking and legendary opening tracking shot through a gloriously campy backlot version of London's SoHo District (so influential it even served as an in-joke in Robert Altman's "The Player") AND for the film's behind-the-scenes B.O. failure both at home (where it was trumped up as to herald the coming of the "new" British cinema) and abroad. But upon a fresh look in the days after the visual assault of "Moulin Rouge" and the puffery of "Chicago", smarter DVD viewers will certainly (hopefully) now find "Absolute Beginners". MGM's timing couldn't be more perfect: the film should find an audience that has caught up with the form, patient enough to sit through the razzle-dazzle with a cast that frequently, joyously, breaks into song when the moment is right.

Director Temple - he of the Sex Pistols' "The Great Rock And Roll Swindle", "Earth Girls Are Easy" and a career of 80's short and long-form rock videos - takes what was a very-dead movie genre and breathes life into a freewheelingly complex - perhaps overreaching - story of "England's First Teenagers". The idea is pure Temple: pop art, pop culture and commercialism all served up in a beautiful, thoughtful package if as inherently artificial as the people and era it documents. The film crosses classic kitchen-sink drama and the dreamy ambition of the "youth" pictures of the day - albeit with a knowingly 80's sensibility.

"Absolute Beginners" follows its two young "teen" stars - amateur photographer Eddie O'Connell and the lovely Patsy Kensit as a neophyte fashion designer - as they discover that their blooming talents put them in the right-place-right-time of late 50's London, and that these same talents are a highly desired and marketable currency in the pop idol-crazed Blighty. All of the "adults" in the film (David Bowie as a oily American marketing guru and James Fox as a foppish and callous fashionista are standouts) are the force out to co-opt and corrupt our two young lovers, and their love does get called into question in the pursuit of success and the almighty British Sterling. A sub-plot of sorts involving nasty Steven Berkoff ("Beverly Hills Cop") wedging a "Keep England White" racial cleansing of the soddy London White City ghettos coldly highlights the cultural plasticness of the navelgazing fad-frenzy time, which leads to the film's firey denouement.

And this is a musical! But what a musical it is: each of the picture's numbers is a virtual showstopper set-piece. There's Ray Davies of "The Kinks" as a Landlord in an awesome "Quiet Life" eye-popper that features the Brit-Rock legend chasing his boarders through an artificial three-level house all the while singing and soft-shoeing up a storm; the formerly mentioned Bowie's "That's Motivation!" a hilarious lesson on the evils of mass-marketing; and a wild Jamaican-Jazz fusion fashion show that Kensit makes all her own. The film's musical director was the late Gil Evans, and his contribution gives this film a classy, thoughtful pedigree that the story tries very hard to match. Watch for Sade Adu, Robbie Coltrane, Anita Morris and Mandy Rice-Davies in bit parts.

Yes, the film's serious reach hardly exceeds its glitzy grasp, but it's difficult to fault a movie that attempts to exhume the movie musical, tries to tell a overly complicated tale in which people still break into song, crams the edges of its widescreen aspect ratio in energetic cinematography, colorful scenery and engaging performances by its leads, PLUS offers a great jazzy soundtrack and kicky musical numbers.

A great double bill with this title would be the Cliff Richard artifact, "The Young Ones".

13 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Suitable for kids? gumbyman91
Off-the-wall Question. doomsday_freak
Remake please but properly this time! KMitford
dvd adamsplace1981
That trivia information doesn't sound right nxylas
Ray Davies song cookie_boy2000
Discuss Absolute Beginners (1986) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: