- rated - TEPID
"Rock and Roll, like pornography, is
a young person's enterprise. Watching old people do it is gross"
- Mr Cranky (www.mrcranky.com).
This film doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it The Commitments (the
same writers wrote that film)? Is it This is Spinal Tap (it isn't)? Is
it The Full Monty (it tries hard)? It is none of these, in fact. It
falls between three stools.
Don't get me wrong, though. There's plenty of fun and many laughs in
Still Crazy. But it never quite takes off. It ventures interestingly
into the darker side of aging, too, but it doesn't quite make the grade
there either, despite a marvellous performance by Bill Nighy as Ray
Simms (Ray Davies?).
We've seen Bill Nighy before. He is primarily a stage actor, but we
have seen him occasionally on screen - in Fairytale, A True Story
(1997, Charles Strurridge) and Antonia and Jane (1991, Beeban Kidron).
The rest of the cast is excellent, too: there's Stephen Rea, Timothy
Spall from Secrets and Lies (1996, Mike Leigh) and Life is Sweet (1990,
Mike Leigh), Jimmy Nail and Billy Connolly, in as the roadie/narrator.
I think the problem is that the movie didn't trust itself enough. Was
this the fault of the director, Brian Gibson, who directed the highly
praised Tina Turner bio-pic What's Love Got to Do with It? Or was it
the writers (British TV legends Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais).
Whoever it was, they seem to think that the film needed a charasmatic
narrator - so they picked Billy Connolly, and what they got is a
bulldozer. It's a very distracting performance indeed.
Nearly every joke and every plot-twist is telegraphed in advance. There
are unnecessary subplots concerning the abortive love affairs between
(a) Stephen Rea's character and the group's "gofer", a character played
by Juliet Aubrey (who tries very hard); and (b) that character's
daughter (Rachael Sterling) and the group's new young guitarist (Hans
Matheson). Those subplots go nowhere. They bring in a mystery
character, played by Bruce Robinson, and then leave those issues
dangling too. Incidentally, Robinson was the writer and director of
Withnail & I (1987) and Jennifer 8 (1992).
Maybe it's just that I don't buy the redemptive ending. I almost bought
it in The Full Monty, but it doesn't get me here. I'm with Mr Cranky:
on the whole, the prospect of the band getting back together again just
isn't a romantic enough notion for me. It isn't enough to sustain the
film. As a matter of fact the music itself isn't a bad facsimile of 70s
hard rock. The producers brought in ex-members of Foreigner, Squeeze
and ELO to do the honours there, and it sounds authentic enough.
Maybe it's just I can't get over what a bad choice of name "Strange
Fruit" is. At one point, the writers even have a black guy from the
record company saying "Strange Fruit: cool name." Oh dear! Have really
we come so far from the source?