It’s nice to see that even when actors hit the big time, in this case it’s Daniel Craig, that they still opt to try the smaller, more independent films every now and then. Even when, in the case of Flashbacks of a Fool, the result isn’t all that great, it’s still nice to see.
Once successful now very much fading Hollywood star Joe Scot gets word of the death of a childhood friend. Before he heads back to his home town for his funeral he thinks back to his time as a child and teenager before he headed off to become a star.
The weaknesses of this film, in a very unusual fashion, are the beginning and ending segment. It takes far longer than needed to get to where it needs to go, about 40 minutes I should point out, and the ending left me feeling empty and looking back at the films as being impactless and rather pointless. But it’s the middle section that harbours the most interesting events, the titled “flashbacks”, just about saving the film from being a waste of time.
As I said the middle segment is definitely the most interesting and compelling part of the film. It shows Joe as a teenager, going out on dates, hanging out with friends and helping his mum around the house. That’s just the beginning of his tale in flashbacks as things soon get even more interesting as when the film gets to meatier part of the story he catches the attention of a married neighbour interested in Joe in a way she very much shouldn’t and a startling, and some would say quite unnecessary, incident involving the neighbours child. It’s baffling and almost incomprehensible that writer/director Baillie Walsh could start and end so poorly and yet have such an interesting part smack damn in the middle, I just wish the whole film was like it.
The film opens with an unnecessary and very out-of-focus sex scene involving Craig and two women. We see not only that but him and the women doing drugs and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. I guess this is to show the downward spiral Craig’s character is in and in that sense I guess it makes sense to have scenes such as that in there. But I just felt the way in which the director did this, and a few other related scenes, was a bit misjudged. Not unlike a lot of the film; misjudged. I kept thinking, “Why is this bit in here, why is that bit in here. Why’s this bit done like that…” etc, etc. It’s uneven for the most part and for the rest it just kind of makes you wonder why the rest isn’t as good.
The performances all round are one of the films few highlights. You would think one would praise Mr Craig when in fact, even though he isn’t bad in any way, it’s the performance of up-and-comer Harry Eden, who plays Craig as a teenager, who really shines. It’s actually him who has the most screen time and thus, arguably, is the “main actor”. For an actor as young as he is it was impressive to see him tackle such a complex role with such skill and conviction. Since the biggest thing he has been in to date is the 2003 version of Peter Pan he’s doing the right thing to tuck away as many of these kinds of roles while he’s young so that he has a good looking resume should anything bigger come his way, as I’m sure it now will.
Another particularly impressive performance comes from Jodhi May as the overly interested neighbour of Joe’s. The aforementioned startling incident involves her and it is in the following scenes to that incident that May really shows off some amazing acting talent. I can’t recall seeing her in anything before this so from a pair of fresh eyes to her career I will definitely look out for her in other films from now on.
I think what left me empty and quite disappointed with Flashbacks was just how pointless it all felt. Annoyances with the overly long intro aside it was the ending which irked me the most. It just seemed to fizzle out without much of anything to keep you thinking about it as you leave the room. There are some fine performances at play and a compelling middle section but overall it falls short of being impactful and I will no doubt forget about it within just a few weeks.