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Flashbacks of a Fool


Stars: Daniel Craig, Harry Eden, Olivia Williams, Jodhi May, Eve, Max Deacon, Felicity Jones, Keeley Hawes, Helen McCrory, Claire Forlani, Emilia Fox, Miriam Karlin

Director: Baillie Walsh

Bits of sex film, sensitive human drama, tragedy, despair, loss and an idealised childhood are all in the mix for this often well-acted and beautifully shot film that doesn't quite satisfy as a whole. Craig is solid as Joe Scot, a near-washed-up Hollywood star who has blown his fame on drugs, booze, call-girls and, one imagines, a few bad movies. Now known as Captain Wacky and no longer wanted for prime roles, Joe, fully dressed, floats aimlessly in the California sea as he drifts back to his English childhood.

This is in fact the body of the film, devoted to a brief period in the teenage life of Joe (Eden) - fishing with his best pal (Deacon) near their beachside homes on the (presumably) Essex coast, falling for Ruth (bewitchingly talented Jones), but being seduced by the local - married - slut (May), who lives along the beach.

Craig doesn't reappear as the adult Joe until about 15 minutes from the end, where the film seems anxious to tie up its several strands - although its two sections don't quite hang together. But it's ravishingly well photographed (mainly in South Africa) and contains a remarkable array of meaty roles for women. Jones and May in particular catch the eye, but Williams (as Joe's mother), Fox (as his drug dealer), Hawes (as his grown-up sister) and veteran Karlin (as the old crone next door) all register well in differing roles.

Karlin gets the best line, too, describing why she once had to have an enema: 'I was blocked up.' she exclaims, 'like an old crypt!

David Quinlan

UK/South Africa 2008. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Colour by deluxe.
115 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

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

Review date: 16 Apr 2008