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Jersey Boys


Stars: John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Mike Doyle, Christopher Walken, Freya Tingley, Donnie Kehr

Director: Clint Eastwood

In many ways, this is an old-fashioned musical biopic, centred on the careers of Frankie Valli (Lloyd Young) and The Four Seasons, and based on the smash-hit stage show.

From their beginnings in New Jersey, where boys joined the Mob, the army, or became famous - 'We did two out of three' says Frankie - Eastwood's film looks at their early brushes with the law, and their struggles to find a 'sound', a name and a breakthrough with a record company.

Originally a threesome, with ex-barber Frankie, Tommy (Piazza) - wiseguy, singer and self-styled manager - and bass singer Nick (Lomenda), they take on board (against Tommy's wishes) singer/songwriter Bob Gaudio (Bergen), whose string of hits, together with Frankie's powerful falsetto voice, propels them to several number ones in the early 1960s' charts.

Divisions in the band soon appear as the decade goes on, with Tommy's gambling debts crippling their income. Not for the first time, Frankie, who has left his wife to live with a showbiz reporter, is forced to turn to Mob boss Gyp (Walken), a friend from way back...

Though rather heavy at times, the film takes wing every time the Seasons step on stage to perform one of their hits, which begin in earnest with Sherry, with Lloyd Young singing his heart out and living the lyrics, as Valli. Small wonder this performance won him a Tony award - although the portrayal that catches the eye on film is that of Piazza, a Kyle Maclachlan lookalike, as the sneering, headstrong Tommy.

The palette of the film is more Eastwood than Hollywood, with an emphasis on various shades of brown. On the whole, it's a good night out.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour by Kodak.
132 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 17 Jun 2014