It’s always good to help your friends when you can and Daniel Craig has done just that with Flashbacks Of A Fool, Baillie Walsh’s coming-of-age yarn about a washed-up movie star looking back on one lusty, tragic teenage summer. Proving that he intends to keep one foot firmly planted in the UK indie pool, Craig not only loaned his A-list cachet but also worked to raise the dosh as exec-producer, so his music-vid director friend could pop his feature cherry. But is it as good for us as it was for him? Well, Flashbacks... is more a case of cinematic Coitus interruptus, starting with some teasing, pleasing foreplay, shifting into a slightly forced rhythm and flagging by the home stretch.
Opening with Scott Walker singing ‘Jacques Brel’ signals Walsh’s camp aesthetic, which builds up to a crescendo of naked limbs entwined in the beach-house of star-on-the-slide Joe Scott (Craig), who applies balm to the remnants of his career with coke-snorting threesomes. Craig brings a wired, desolate energy to early scenes that rev with hazy paranoia, scoring blow wraps from his dealer Sister Jean or asking his unimpressed assistant Ophelia (hip-hop star Eve) to feel a lump in his chest in case it’s breast cancer. He’s also charismatic and very sexy, Walsh’s camera showing off his physicality in a way that will thrill fans.
After a bad lunch with his agent, Craig lies back and thinks of England, and it’s straight from wanker to wanking as adolescent Joe (Harry Eden) and his friend Boots (Max Deacon) tug one off in a spook house. But Walsh flatters to deceive in flashback. Having prologued his tale with a bonding session between the pair – and using Boots’ death as the prompt for a memory jog back to England, 1972 – Walsh establishes expectations he struggles to fulfil. Boots is elbowed to the side to make way for a neighbour (Jodhi May) who reels Joe in for lusty encounters and then tragedy. It’s like a cuckoo’s egg that’s been dropped in from another film. Young Joe isn’t developed much beyond a sex-mad juvenile and with the disjointed structure failing to gel, the third wedge – when Joe returns home for Boots’ funeral – is left with hollow pieces.
Although Walsh delivers some terrific sequences, everyone would have been better served by making more of the fool and less of the flashbacks.
It's a fool's paradise for Craig as his fading filmstar looks back on how teenage hormones lead to tragedy. Walsh doesn't fritter away Daniel's magnanimity, but the lurch between Hollywood washout and ramshackle English adolescence needs more to bond present and past together.