In the heat of the summer of 1976, keen drama teacher Vivienne fights sweltering heat and general teenage apathy to put on an end of year music version of Shakespeare's The Tempest. To engage her students, she uses hits of the time, which will be performed by a fresh young cast led by rising star Aneurin Barnard. Written by
Set in 1976 Swansea, "Hunky Dory" follows charismatic drama teacher Viv (Minnie Driver) as she attempts to stage a rock-opera version of Shakespeare's "The Tempest", set on Mars. Predictably, the play serves as a catalyst to examine and solve some of the students' problems, such as broken families and burgeoning homosexuality, and as a point of confrontation between liberal Viv and other sterner and more classically minded teachers.
What the "Freedom Writers", cum "Glee", cum "School of Rock" plot lacks in originality is more than made up for by the stellar ensemble cast. Driver provides a strong, believable lead performance, supported by the frankly superb rising star Aneurin Barnard, as troubled student Davey, and backed by a surprisingly good cast of relatively unknown young actors.
Without a doubt, the best thing about "Hunky Dory" is the great soundtrack, which is performed entirely by the talented, young cast. The film features a staggering selection of classic 1970s rock artists, such as Pink Floyd, The Who, The Beach Boys, with an emphasis on David Bowie, whose album the film takes its title from.
Overall, "Hunky Dory" is a film that would appeal to the younger "Glee-generation", had it not been awkwardly clashing with a classic rock soundtrack, and a more adult storyline. Nonetheless, it is an entertaining, if schmaltzy and clichéd, film.
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