THE treatment of Stuart Sutcliffe is good, very good, although the rest of the fledgling Beatles look terrible - particularly the George Harrison and Pete Best characters. Overall, The Beatles are presented as a very loose set of relationships, John Lennon appears to hate everybody and while many biographies describe Lennon as a man with a twisted sense of humour, the kind of antics described in the Hunter Davis and Philip Norman biographies are missing completely. George and Paul are little more than extras much of the time which, as a devotee of history, grated rather a lot with me. However, the film is about the relationship between Stu Sutcliffe and the beautiful Astrid Kirscher and this is dealt with sensitively and tenderness. Throughout, they are presented as beautiful people, made for each other but tragically torn apart. Opening with Sutcliffe and Lennon being set upon by a bunch of Liverpool heavies, the die is cast for young Stu within five minutes, setting up the tragedy of this brilliant but humble and hugely likable young painter who keeps telling Lennon how great the Beatles are destined to be and seems quite happy to step aside and watch them rise to fame, happy to have stepped off the bandwaggon. Who knows, if Sutcliffe had lived he may have risen to similar heights himself in the art world. Perhaps the Sgt Pepper or Revolver album covers might have gone his way if he had been around to do them. . . Musically, the film rocks from start to finish with excellent arrangements of classic Beatle covers and a recreation of the recording of My Bonnie with Tony Sheridan which actually comes out sounding much livlier than the original. Although the Beatle history freak in me longs to see a film about the band in Hamburg, this is not a historical documentary. It's a film based on the tragic story of a Liverpool painter who was struck down far too young and the beautiful woman he loved - and who loved him. As a tale of tender love set against the backdrop of the Beatles in Hamburg, it's a fine film with a rocking soundtrack.
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