Jimmy (Phil Daniels) is a young Mod looking for pills, thrills and a sense of identity in 60s London. His increasing reliance on the buzz provided by the gang mentality of his friends reaches its height in the Brighton Bank Holiday confrontations with the Rockers. An inevitable comedown follows when he is expected to return to the plodding banality of everyday life.
Franc Roddam's terrifically energetic movie, set to music from the Who's Quadrophenia, is--at the very least, the best film ever based on a rock album (and, yes, that includes, Tommy, Pink Floyd: The Wall
, and Jesus Christ Superstar
). Actually, this tale of the battle between two early '60s youth subcultures--Mods and Rockers--in the seaside teenage wasteland of Brighton, England, isn't so much a cinematic "version" of the Who's 1979 double-record rock opera as it is a story based on the sequence of songs on the album. Quadrophenia
is about that crucial time in teenhood when the lion's share of your sense of identity is tied up in the music you listen to, the clothes you wear, and the groups you hang out with. Jimmy (Phil Daniels) identifies himself with the sharp-dressing, scooter-riding Mods, who listen to American soul and British pop-rock (The Who themselves were once rather Mod). The Rockers, on the other hand, are leather-jacketed, black-booted, motorcycle-riding tough guys who listen primarily to classic American rock & roll. The film captures this minor pop-culture revolution perfectly. Look for Sting as a club-hopping slickster, who's shameful secret is that he's a hotel bellboy by day. --Jim Emerson