November 11, 2008

Flashbacks of a Fool


Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): **½

For film fans looking for more of Daniel Craig, unclothed especially, the opening scene of Flashbacks of a Fool (dreadfully pretentious title!) should keep you happy, as the menage-a-trois shown is full of fire-lighted flesh and frisky lovemaking. But then it’s the morning after and the angst sets in. Writer/director Baillie Walsh's film is actually one large flashback that covers the character played by Craig in late adolescence, as he discovers sex, love and dancing, all of which leads him to become the has-been star we see at the film’s beginning. How his stardom happened, what it entailed and who this character is – these go completely unremarked upon, which makes the movie seem like a novel that’s been hacked to half-length and then given a TV-level treatment.

Interestingly enough, the flashback section proves twice as worthwhile as the opening/closing framework that features Mr. Craig. In it, the characters are more vivid and the story becomes involving. That actresses are present on the level of Olivia Williams, Jodhi May and Helen McCrory is a big help. Craig acquits himself as well as his very limited role permits, but anyone coming late to the career of this splendid actor, should partake of some of his earlier triumphs. Even in smaller roles (Infamous), in films not so hot (Enduring Love) or often unpleasant (Love Is the Devil), as well as the lead in the grossly under-rated Layer Cake or a near-perfect movie like The Mother, in which Craig does some of his best work, this actor remains wonderfully versatile, always riveting.

Let's hope the Bond franchise does not prove reductive to what ought to be a burgeoning, long-lasting career for this actor who has already made over 50 film and TV appearances. If playing Bond forces Craig to accept roles like this one in order to remind audiences of his versatility, then he – and we – are in trouble.

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Posted by cphillips at November 11, 2008 1:40 PM
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