Flashbacks Of A Fool A Film about making the most of your life

Written by The Hawk
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In early 2008 as audiences primed themselves for the next James Bond outing the Quantum Of Solice, small budget offering Flashbacks Of A Fool made its way into movie big time, starring recent James Bond incumbent Daniel Craig, had Craig not impressed the audiences with his unusual portrayal as everyone’s favourite secret agent then nobody would have even heard of this offering.

Flashbacks Of A Fool was a movie many years in the making, and had the director Baillie Walsh not had close ties with Craig, it may never have been completed. Upon its cinema release the movie was slated, naive immature movie enthusiasts wanted the same Craig that we had seen in Layer Cake and Casino Royale, instead they got a movie about a self obsessed has been movie star with issues from the past to wrestle with.


Daniel Craig plays Joe Scott, a one-time big deal in Hollywood whose life is just empty, drinking, drugs, and self obsession are his only interests. Living in Los Angeles his life is far from his roots in the east coast of England, in a small seaside resort. For Joe though life turns further upside down one day when a phone call from his mother Grace (Olivia Williams) tells him that his childhood friend Boots has died. After a morning of anger Joe heads to the beach with a bottle, heading into the sea he floats on the surface reflecting on that crucial point in time where his life changed forever.

Flashbacks Of A Fool is the sort of movie that would appeal to a person of a certain age, and into a specific scene at the moment of their life where things changed more than at any other point in their lifetime. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, I lived on a beach (in a house obviously) and found a certain wonder in the magic of that beach, during my early teenage years I was obsessed by two things sex and music, the movie is centred around exactly the same time. One of the pivotal moments of the movie occurs when an old World War two mine is washed up on the beach all the characters live on, where I was growing up this happened all the time. For all these reasons I can relate to the character of Joe, watching the movie was like a glimpse back into my past, with me being the titled fool. Like all flashbacks you remember the weather either to be perfect or horrendous and as such the weather in the movie is one or the other, usually perfect. I think if you’re below 35 years old (unless you are an old soul in a young person’s body), that you really will not get this movie. This is a movie that offers a dreamy time to reminisce the good times, along with a rather unpleasant series of events.

Sex features highly in the movie, rather like the way Channel Four (a UK based television station) used to lure its viewers in, Flashbacks Of A Fool pulls in its audience with the promise of sex and a certain sort of titillation. Opening with silhouetted figures enjoying a threesome, sex next raises its head during a flashback to a fairground ghost train, where young Joe and his friend Boots are vigorously masturbating in order to obtain enough sperm to wipe in the hair of the girls that pass by them in their carriages. Joe finds himself later caught in the crossfire between two women, sexually frustrated neighbour Evelyn (Jodhi May) and the delightful David Bowie/Roxy Music obsessed Ruth (Felicity Jones). Like any child, the most straight forward option, the quickest way to get to the goal (the goal here being sex) is the path that Joe takes.  It’s one of these diversions that cause the issues that change his life, and cause him to put his childhood behind him even though he was still a child.

Director/Writer Baillie Walsh lived through the period of time portrayed in Joe’s flashbacks, as a result he pictures everything just perfectly, delivering us to a time where everyone made home-grown produce, and a highlight of living near the beach was beachcombing looking for treasures washed ashore. I love the fact that Joe’s mother has a “friend”, a woman whose presence is unexplained and giving you good reason to suspect she may be a lesbian, this sort of thing happened a lot back then. He also has given good attention to the clothing, makeup, music, and the sort of filming locations used; if it were not for the fact that you are fully aware when the movie was made you could easily believe that this movie was a product of the day. Aspects of the movie are biographical in the movie (from Walsh’s life); though nowhere does it explain what aspects these might be.  Realising that the majority of the audience are not going to be above the age of 35 Walsh tries his best to explain as best he can about that point in time, specifically using the wild, mysterious and mature Ruth (the same age as Joe but way above his level of maturity) to explain things, in an educational moment she explains to Joe the meaning behind Bowies Jean Genie, although really she is explaining to the audience. While trends of the day like putting your head in a polythene bag to see how long you can breathe for without suffocating,  help us to understand how the more innocent aspects of this time were never far away from something far more serious.

There are moments in the movie that have been framed and captured so perfectly, Ruth dresses up young Joe (played in flashbacks by Harry Eden from Bleak House) with a jazzy Bryan Ferry style jacket and make-up, then the two perform a mimed version of a performance to Roxy Music’s “If There Is Something”, a track legendary in both its running time and its style. This same score later becomes the theme for the movie, personally when I think back over the movie it’s the most vivid image created in my head.

The cast are particularly good many of whom are doing favours for Walsh, because like Craig not only did they live the time, but they fully understood it and know that this is an area of history forgotten to all but those that lived it. Along with the cast members mentioned there is also the delightful Claire Forlani, Keeley Hawes, and Mark Strong, all of whom act very naturally, there is no faking here.

The cleverest aspect of the movie is that for the Los Angeles scenes of the movie, Walsh captured similar looking environments from both the UK and South Africa in order to save money with the movies production costs, and unless you knew better you would never for one moment  suspect this.

The crucial aspect of the movie, its mission statement if you like is all about change, and most importantly letting go of the past; life is short and it’s important to make the best of everyday, as the movie progresses Joes reflections of the past help him to address his future.
While not for everyone, Flashbacks Of A Fool is for someone, and if nobody else it was for me; from providing me with forgotten images from my past, and breaking free all those memories; to most importantly keeping me entertained for two hours. So for every bad review on this movie you read, remember this one and hopefully you’ll give it the chance to work its charms on you too.

© Words - The Hawk/ ZANI


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Read 4579 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 16:44
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