Flashbacks of a Fool


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Daniel Craig plays a washed-up Hollywood star named Joe. He's a coked-up, bed-hopping ne'er-do-well who doesn't give a damn about anything. In the opening credits he beds a couple of lightweight bims while the background score plays a powerful Jacquel Brel score about how every adult, the tycoon and the homeless man alike, was once a child like your own. (This song, but not that particular performer.) The story begins in earnest the next morning, when Joe awakens and gets a call from his dear, sainted mum, who reports that Joe's best childhood friend has died unexpectedly while in his early forties.

Given that set-up and the title of the film, can you guess what comes next?

Did I hear anyone say "Rosebud?"

You get a gold star if you guessed that the next act will involve a long, long flashback about how the sweet British kid from the impoverished podunk community became an American wastrel.

It's the requisite "film made for tragedy," because this is an ambitious drama and most filmmakers seem to think that unremitting tragedy is the correct recipe for proper drama. Since these films are designed to attract female audiences, we can conclude one of two things: either (1) film producers think women are really stupid; or (2) women really are stupid. Which is true? More on that in the box office details which will conclude this commentary.

What kind of tragedies does the story deliver?

Joe's best friend died at 40? Nothin'! That was the cheeriest thing in the film. That was the freakin' comic relief! That character died leaving his widow impoverished. The widow was the girl Joe loved and had a chance with before he betrayed her with the local tart. Now we're getting to the really good stuff. While Joe was balling the jack a second time with said tart, the slutty woman sent her daughter out to play. The little girl wandered down the shore until she found a land mine and started jumping up and down on it, and ...

Honest to God. I didn't make that up.

Come to think of it, I guess this sort of thing isn't so odd in the literary world. After all, this is the plot of every John Irving novel, isn't it? Some adult indulges in some inappropriate sexual escapade which almost immediately results in a major tragedy, often the death of a child.

Anyway .... by now maybe you think that the film is kind of "piling on" in the tragedy department?

Brother, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

This film may have wasted more talent than any 90 minutes in the history of cinema. It features uniformly excellent performances down to the smallest roles, a sound track which was chosen perfectly, evocative photography, and some memorable moments. All of that strives mightily in the service of something which really has almost no point. Yes, we did find out how the idealistic boy became the bitter man after being shaped by overwhelming losses and guilt in his adolescence, but the strange part of the script is that there was no "Rosebud" moment. The film leads us to believe that the childhood relationship between Joe and the recently deceased man will reveal something important, but it never really does. We barely see young "Boots," and nearly everything we know about him is revealed to us by expository dialogue. Later, back in the present, Joe is late for Boots's funeral. He tries to make amends ...

Now here's what we get instead of "Rosebud":

He flies back to the States. His assistant picks him up at the airport. As they talk in the car, seen but unheard by us, the camera pulls away from the car, upward, ever upward until we are seeing the car from a bird's eye, surrounded by thousand of others.

The end.

What the ...?

Why was that last portion back in the States included at all? If you know, you write the rest of the review. I was expecting to see a word slide like "A Quinn Martin production," with previews from next week's episode.

By the way, Daniel Craig was totally miscast in the lead. But then he was the producer, so I suppose he had some influence in choosing the star. Oh, he's an excellent actor and he certainly has the body to do the nude scenes, but think about those nude scenes for a second. His character is a 40ish or 50ish guy who spends his life coking, boozing, sleeping until noon, then drinking again when he wakes. How the hell could a guy like that have a body like Craig's? Of course, if you're making a film which is designed to appeal to women, you will probably want a hunky naked dude rather than a fugly one, even if the script calls for a flabby guy.

Fact of life.

But cynical. Too cynical for a serious drama.

Returning to the question I asked earlier: Do chick-flicks like this get made because women are dumb, or because film producers think they are? We can answer that by analyzing whether all that contrived manipulation, the tragedies and the male butts, got women into the theaters.

Uh ... no.

See the notes to the right.

In other words, women are not so dumb after all. You can't just throw up any old weepy-ass soap opera plot, add Daniel Craig naked, and get women to flock to the ol' Rialto.

Given those dismal results, and the cool to tepid reviews, there was absolutely no attempt at a North American theatrical release, despite the fact that Daniel Craig is now a pretty big star in the USA and Disney had money behind the film.

By the way, the film is nowhere near as bad as my above words seem to indicate. To be fair, it's a film with many positives, enough that the producers and director probably dreamt it was "Oscar bait."  That may be so in an alternate universe, but not here. The whole of the film is far less than the sum of its parts.


* widescreen anamorphic

* whatever







2 The Guardian (of 5 stars)
3 BBC  (of 5 stars)






6.4 IMDB summary (of 10)







It was released in Britain in April in moderately wide distribution -  270 theaters, roughly equivalent to 1500 in the States - but it grossed only a half million dollars that weekend and could not even crack the top ten. The British theaters do not all automatically commit for two weeks like the ones in the States, so about half of the venues dropped Flashbacks before it could muck up a second weekend. The film dropped an astronomical 84% from week one to week two, and then another 85% between weeks two and three.






The film does have some good nudity, but it is obviously targeted at female audiences. There is no scene where a naked woman is present without a man.

In each male/female case, the angles and focus are set up to favor the male nudity.

  • Jodhi May and Harry Eden had two sex scenes i the missionary position. Breasts from Jodhi, bum from Harry.
  • Julie Ordon and Gina Athans are naked in the opening credits sequence, a 3-way with Daniel Craig, but they are out of focus, so it's basically a Daniel Craig nude scene.

On the other hand, there are two scenes which include naked men without women.

  • Daniel Craig is naked for much of the film's first eight minutes
  • There is also a distant full-frontal in Alfie Allen's skinny-dipping scene.






Web www.scoopy.com

Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Manipulative soap opera. Not a genuinely heartfelt drama, but a film created by marketing guys to appeal to female audiences