An aging Hollywood star, Joe Scott, lives a life of narcissistic hedonism, observed by his laconic personal assistant, Ophelia. The death of his childhood best friend, Boots, takes our protagonist, and the movie, into an extended flashback to a sea-side town in 1970's Britain. Hollywood star Joe is now a teenage boy in a tentative relationship with a school-girl called Ruth. Further, his mother's friend, Evelyn, is attempting to seduce him. Engulfed by guilt at the unintended, tragic consequences of his subterfuge, he leaves home. The movie then switches back to contemporary Hollywood. Joe confronts his fear and returns to England for a difficult meeting with Ruth, who had gone on to marry Boots and has been a left a poor widow.Written by
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He's got no stamina.
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Films of reflection are too few and often the result of climbing to a summit only to gaze back at the shadows never cast in the greedy race for the top ends i tragedy. FLASHBACKS OF A FOOL suggests, by its title, that the story may be different, that there may be some redemption at the core of an abusive life.
Writer/director Baillie Walsh sets his story in opening frames of intense sexual, drug accompanied debauchery. But as the credits fade, the lead character Joe Scott (Daniel Craig) faces a morning of hung over reality. A wealthy Hollywood star whose lifestyle has hastened his aging, Joe is 'managed' by the stern Ophelia (Eve) who is tiring of Joe's wasted lifestyle. Her warnings, as well as Joe's agent's confrontation that Joe is too old looking for a new screenplay, is compounded by a telephone call that Joe's boyhood friend Boots (Max Deacon) has suddenly died, leaving Joe's old first girlfriend Ruth (Claire Forlani) an early widow. Depressed and drunk Joe walks his beach and reflects on his youth. The 'flashback' tales us to Joe's teenage years (the young Joe is Harry Eden) with Boots as his closest friend and Ruth (Felicity Jones), the girl Joe craves. But hormones rule and Joe is an easy prey for his married next door neighbor: during one of their trysts a tragedy occurs that results in Joe's fleeing home for the 'successful' yet empty life he finds in Hollywood.
At the request of Joe's mother (Olivia Williams) he flies back to England where he is forced to confront the early damage he caused in the lives of his family and friends. Daniel Craig and Harry Eden are excellent in their mirrored roles of the young and the older Joe. In fact there is not a weak member of this fine British cast. Though the story takes place in England the film was shot in South Africa (cinematographer John Mathieson) and the rickety beach houses on the small bay where Boots and Joe spend their time is picturesque and adds the right sense of isolation to the story. At 114 minutes the film goes on a bit too long with areas for editing a bit too obvious. But the overall effect of FLASHBACKS OF A FOOL is a satisfying journey through a memory that holds a light to the incidents of youth that can alter too many lives if not mended. Grady Harp
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