Dir. Baillie Walsh. UK. 2008. 104mins.
Flashbacks Of A Fool nails one of its main selling points early on: James Bond's naked bottom is viewed through a glass distortedly throughout the entire title sequence. Before a word has been uttered, and to the sounds of Scott Walker's Sons Of The Father, Daniel Craig, as fading Hollywood star Joe Scot, gleefully swigs booze, snorts cocaine, and indulges in an enthusiastic threesome in his glassy seaside mansion. Craig is certainly shaking and stirring it here.
But the attention-grabbing present-day sequences with Craig soon flash back to 1972, where the lion's share of this film takes place and debut feature director Baillie Walsh (who also wrote the screenplay), gets lost in the transition. The two time-frames fail to connect, either with each other or the viewer, and Flashbacks flounders in the final third.
Craig's appearance and the nostalgia aspect guarantee Flashbacks a strong opening when it releases through Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in the UK on April 18 and a long life on ancillary. Internationally, Craig - who is credited as executive producer - will also ensure small-scale theatrical and reasonably healthy action on rental for Bondenthusiasts, skewing towards women. But notices may be poor and the filmis unlikely to benefit from any awards.
For the first 30 minutes, however, Flashbacks makes for compelling viewing as Joe wakes up from his debauched night and heads straight for the wetbar; calls his coke dealer (Emilia Fox); takes a phone call from his mother with the news that 'Boots' has died; and makes a lunchtime meeting with his agent only to be told to 'take a look in the mirror the next time you're snorting off it'. Joe is washed up and drunkenly drives to a beach to try and drown himself, launching the film into an extended flashback sequence.
We are taken back to an English seaside town in 1972 where a teenage Joe (Harry Eden) and Boots (Max Deacon) are about to have one of those important rites-of-passage summers, largely to the strains of Roxy Music. That the seaside in question is actually on the Cape West Coast of South Africa is a blatant incongruity which plagues Flashbacks' mid-section - it looks nothing like England, making the entire sequence feel disconnected and the actors appear lost in some kind of fantasy world.
In an all-female domestic set-up, Joe succumbs to the sexual advances of married neighbour Evelyn (Jodhi May, playing effectively against type) although the real object of his desire is fellow teenager Ruth (Felicity Jones). But his best friend Boots also has designs on Ruth, and Joe's dalliance with Evelyn will have life-changing consequences for all involved.
As Walsh tries desperately to connect the dots of these two disparate sequences and to come tosome sort of a conclusion, logic is cast to the wind. Flashbacks crashes under the weight of its own ambition. What's more, it's almost impossible for the audience to care about the death of a character they've barely been introduced to.
While video director Walsh evidently knows his way around a camera, he appears to have difficulty extracting performances from his actors. The dialogue doesn't help: it's always going to be hard for someone to say: 'He had a rare gift, he knew his place in the world,' or 'sometimes being brave means standing still' without sounding like a Hallmark card.
Craig, at least, looks as if he might have had fun making this. And technically, Flashbacks is notable for its crisp, exquisite visuals and compositions, spot-on production design and individual moments - especially early on - which are memorable but disappointingly fail to add up to a whole.
Left Turn Films
(1) 310 777 8855
Miramax Films through Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures UK