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Hunky Dory [DVD]
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It s the long hot British summer of 1976 and Viv (Minnie Driver) has left London and her thespian aspirations, to work as a drama teacher in the local high school of her south Wales home town. Determined to fire up her hormonal, apathetic teenage charges, she sets about staging a rock musical based on Shakespeare s The Tempest for the school s end of year show. Battling the summer teenage distractions of love, lust and the local lido, Viv perseveres and rallies the group to express themselves through music and drama. The shy and sensitive Davy (Aneurin Barnard) shows talent and promise as male lead Ferdinand, but his crush on the beautiful, yet flighty Stella (Danielle Branch) who plays female lead Miranda , only adds to the behind-the-scenes drama. Spurned by Stella, Davy transfers his adoration to Viv, Stella discovers older boys, skinhead Kenny (Darren Evans) fights ridicule and self-doubt about being involved in the show at all and Evan (Tom Harries) is confused about his sexuality. Only the school s jovial headmaster (Robert Pugh) seems to be genuinely enjoying his role as Prospero and when the school hall burns down, the entire show looks likely to fall apart. Adversity eventually pulls them together and all the angst and excitement of being on the brink of adulthood, is played out in an emotional, evocative and rousing musical climax...
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Top Customer Reviews
In order to help in this process, she intends to put on the school musical, and she chooses Shakespeare's `The Tempest', but with up to date and `with it' music such as Bowie, Roxy, Music and ELO. I was intrigued straight away especially with a very school like version of `Life on Mars' with a xylophone and jars filled with differing amounts of water - brilliant. Well her efforts are received with mild disfavour to outright hostility. The rugby coach says acting is effeminate and won't let his `boys' take part, the splendid Hayden Gwynn as Mrs Valentine, is a sublime cow in her efforts to undermine Vivienne, who seems to let herself down through being caught at being pally with the kids, smoking, drinking, swearing and getting stoned.
The kids themselves are all played brilliantly especially the lad who plays the only gay in the village/ school. Then there is Davy who has a crush for Miss and more mixed hormones than most of his age, but he can fair belt out a tune. The arrangements and treatments of the songs are all at the high end of excellent especially a fairly obscure Roxy number. They are also rubbish at turning up for dress rehearsal and more akin to bunking off down the Lido than learning their lines.Read more ›
It's a feel-good film & I really enjoyed watching it. If only the drama lessons at my school had been half this fun.
The music is remarkable - i.e. it isn't the original singers but the class singing and they sound fantastic.
I may be biased as this is around the date I left school I I loved the cool music from ELO, David Bowie et al.
This isn;t Grange Hill or Waterloo Road, though it is more in the Waterloo Road mode. Its engaging and a great story.
But this is much more in the tradition of the social realist British 'New Wave' films of the sixties, and their working-class milieu, which spilled over into the TV series of the early seventies, and which consequently has much more in common with the era it depicts than the celebrity-fuelled, plastic production values of its American cousin.
The premise is that the new, liberal drama teacher will attempt to inject some contemporary relevance into presenting a version of The Tempest by incorporating the pupils' favourite pop songs into a musical version (it doesn't hurt that they have excellent musical taste - no Showaddywaddy here), against the resistance of her proto-Thatcherite colleagues.
All the cliches of the genre are here: the 'seize the day' school teacher trying to enliven a bunch of hormone-rich teen slackers, the sensitive misfit who thinks he's gay, the hard-nut with attitude who the teacher has to win over, the confused lead given the brush off by the school beauty who develops a crush on the teacher ...
So it shouldn't really work, but what elevates it above the sum of its parts is its authenticity - the sense of time and place is pretty spot on for those of us who came of age in that long, hot summer - and the calibre of the direction and performances from its young cast. Of course, Aneurin Barnard has gone on to play more celebrated roles, but the whole cast - particularly the 'bloody gorgeous' Stella (Danielle Branch), and the talented Tom Harries, along with Minnie Driver who completely convinces as the caring, nurturing drama teacher - impress.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This film is easy going, made a nice change. Refreshing to watch a British film :)Published 5 months ago by Emily Clancy
Love this film. Especially poignant at this sad time. Bowie covers are fab! Film not fantastic colour quality tho.Published 7 months ago by A. E.
A brilliant film set in the seventies about being a kid and school and growing up. Fabulous musical content just adds to the ambience. Loved it!Published 8 months ago by TraceyMo