out of Five
Running time: 119
Impressively directed and superbly acted by a terrific cast, this is both a nostalgia-fuelled coming-of-age tale and a genuinely moving drama about making peace with the past.
What's it all about?
Daniel Craig plays fading Hollywood star Joe Scott, whose hedonistic lifestyle is beginning to take its toll. As the film begins he's having a very bad day: his loyal housekeeper (Eve) tells him she wants to leave; he gets fired by his agent (Mark Strong); his latest conquest's dog craps in his car; and to cap it all off, he gets a phone call from his mother (Olivia Williams) telling him that his childhood best friend has died.
As Joe heads home for the funeral, he flashes back to his adolescence in a British seaside community, growing up with his mother (Olivia Williams), his lesbian aunt (Helen McCrory), his younger sister (Mia Clifford) and his best friend, Boots (Max Deacon). In particular, Joe remembers himself as a teenager (played by Harry Eden) falling in love with a beautiful girl called Ruth (Felicity Jones) and being seduced by his sex-obsessed married neighbour, Evelyn (Jodhi May).
The performances are fantastic, with each member of the cast creating strong characters that will stay with you. However, the stand-out is rising British star Felicity Jones, who's simply wonderful, particularly in the film's key scene where Ruth and Joe bond over a mutual love of David Bowie and Roxy Music.
Writer-director Baillie Walsh creates a strong sense of period atmosphere, thanks to a carefully chosen soundtrack and the idyllic seaside location (though actually, the British-looking community was purpose-built on a South African beach). However, he does make one tiny mistake in not establishing a fairly important part of the beach's geography earlier in the film.
In addition, the script is excellent, cleverly concealing the real reason Joe leaves home until the last moment, while the central theme of making peace with the past is extremely moving.
Flashbacks of a Fool is a well made, superbly acted drama that packs a powerful emotional punch. Recommended.