Director: Julien Temple. UK, 1986. 108mins.
A musical adaptation of Colin MacInnes’ novel about life in late 1950s London, featuring Bowie (who also provided the title track) and Sade, along with a breakthrough role for Patsy Kensit, Julien Temple’s unconventional rock musical divided audiences on its high-profile release but has gone on to acquire cult status.
The rise of teen culture in 1950s Britain provides the backdrop for Julien Temple’s unconventional rock musical Absolute Beginners. The film centres on Colin (Eddie O’Connell), an 18-year-old with a talent for photography and a fondness for the neon nightlife of British jazz clubs. He also is in love with Crepe Suzette (Patsy Kensit), an impulsive, ambitious young beauty who abandons him after attracting the attention of a powerful fashion designer. Depressed and aimless, Colin turns for help to a flashy ad executive (David Bowie) who promises to make him a star photographer. The former lovers take parallel paths to success, capitalising on the youth mania gripping the nation. The film’s nostalgic yet gently satirical look at teen culture is tempered by a recognition of the era’s social tension, particularly a disturbing rise in racism. Despite these serious undertones, however, the film tells its story with a colorful vibrancy reminiscent of both MTV and old Hollywood musicals, filled with such show-stopping numbers as a memorable sequence in which Bowie dances on a giant typewriter.
Director – Julien Temple
Writer – Richard Burridge
Director of Photography – Oliver Stapleton
Producer – Chris Brown, Stephen Woolley
Cast – Eddie O’Connell, Patsy Kensit, David Bowie, Ray Davies, Mandy Rice-Davies, Sade, Edward Tudor-Pole
Print Source – Goldcrest Films International Ltd.
Release date – 18 April 1986