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Stuart: A Life Backwards (2007)

TV-MA | | Drama | TV Movie 23 September 2007
A writer takes a backwards look at the life of his unlikely friend Stuart, a homeless alcoholic who experienced a traumatic event in his childhood.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Claire-Louise Cordwell ...
Edna Doré ...
Joanna Maude ...
Barbara Barnes ...
Wintercomfort Secretary
Hugh Armstrong ...
Old Drunk
George Anton ...
Dangerous Ginger
Dominic Kemp ...
Academic Man
Bookish Woman
Caroline Parker ...
Deaf Jackie
Richard Cant ...
Dainty Man


When Stuart Shorter - a homeless alcoholic with a violent past - meets writer and charity worker Alexander Masters, they strike up an unlikely friendship. As Alexander learns more about Stuart's complicated life and traumatic childhood, he asks if he can write his story and Stuart advises him to tell the story backwards, so that it's "More exciting - like a Tom Clancy murder mystery". As their remarkable alliance develops, Stuart gradually recounts his life story in reverse, his resilient personality and dry sense of humour giving the story an almost tragi-comic edge. Through post office heists, attempts at suicide and spells inside numerous institutions, Alexander is given a glimpse into a totally alien world and begins to understand how Stuart's life spiralled so badly out of control. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

23 September 2007 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Stjuart: Zivot Unatraske  »

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Post Office featured in 1979 and 1993 scenes is the former Post Office (now an empty shop) at Fen Ditton, near Cambridge. See more »


When Alexander lets Stuart into his house for the first time (about 7-8 minutes into the film) the shadow of the camera falls on the door as he closes it. See more »


Stuart Shorter: What a load of bollocks! Who needs the queen?
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Hardy was already warming up for Bronson
21 August 2014 | by (Ecuador) – See all my reviews

"My name is Psycho but you can call me Stuart if you want."

Before his breakout role in Bronson, Tom Hardy showed his true potential in a small made for TV film, Stuart A Life Backwards. He co-stared along another relatively unknown at the time, Benedict Cumberbatch (at least outside of Great Britain). These are two huge A-list actors today who have starred as villains in blockbusters like Star Trek Into Darkness and The Dark Knight Rises among many other great films. So I was immediately attracted to this film when I heard it starred these two actors. It is a biography of a troubled alcoholic and homeless man named Stuart(Tom Hardy) who establishes a friendship with a writer and charity worker named Alexander (Benedict Cumberbatch). We've seen these dramatic films exploring similar issues of unlikely friendships done before, but Stuart gives it a unique twist by telling the story beginning from the back. Because lets face it when we first meet someone like Stuart we are shocked at their current condition and we take little time to try to figure out what may have caused this strange behavior. We see who the person is at the present and by establishing a relationship we slowly begin to uncover things about their past, and that is exactly how Alexander presents Stuart to the audience. Stuart is a rather unconventional character, and Tom Hardy plays him brilliantly. He is an alcoholic who suffers from violent outbreaks. He also has suicide tendencies and suffers from muscular dystrophy which has taken its toll on him. But most of the time Stuart is a kind man with a dry sense of humor. He tells his story in a rather funny way adding a tragicomic touch to this film. Despite the strong performances from Cumberbatch and Hardy the film works mostly because of the way the film is narrated. As we learn more about Stuarts past we begin to sympathize with him and realize where he is coming from. It isn't a great film, but it is solid and it showed the true potential these lead actors had.

The film does feel a bit rushed at times and it suffers from trying to add a lot of information in only 90 minutes, making some scenes feel chopped and forced. Director David Attwood benefits mostly from this emotional true story and these two actors, who happened to be the main attraction for me and the reason why this film is getting some distribution currently on HBO. It isn't a perfect film, but it has a masterful physical performance delivered by Hardy who was just getting warmed up for his upcoming and breakout role in Bronson. I really loved the quirky approach the film took in telling this true story (which was actually based on the successful biography written by Alexander Masters), but it's far from being a perfect and memorable film. The animated scenes that Attwood decided to introduce to tell some parts of the story were a bit disturbing and took me out of the movie at times. But every time I was let down by these scenes, Tom Hardy showed up with another impressive scene and brought me right back in. It is a masterful performance and one that shows his unique talent as an actor. I am also thankful I watched this film with subtitles because sometimes it was difficult to understand what he was mumbling about, but it was still great voice work from his part. Cumberbatch played a more restricted character, but he also has some emotional scenes near the end where he proves he's a talented actor. It is a film worth checking out if you are a fan of these actors.

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