Christine Powley reviews Hunky Dory.

Hunky Dory
Director: Marc Evans
Cast: Minnie Driver, Aneurin Barnard, Danielle Branch, Robert Pugh, Darren Evans, Aled Pugh, Adam Byard, Jodie Davis, Kristian Gwilliam, Julia Perez
Rating: R13

It is a truism that childhood memories tend to consist of one long glorious summer, but in 1976 England had a true long hot summer, and for anyone wanting to do a coming-of-age tale set in the '70s, that is the year to pick.

Hunky Dory (Rialto) follows the last three weeks of school for a bunch of working-class kids in Wales.

Their groovy young teacher, Miss May (Minnie Driver), is putting on The Tempest as a mash-up of Shakespeare and David Bowie songs. Luckily for her, everyone plays a musical instrument or has a beautiful voice.

But, to her frustration, turning up for rehearsals is not a priority for the pupils. They want to hang out at the local swimming pool, sunbathe in the backyard or argue over who is seeing whom.

None of this teenage heartbreak is necessarily a bad thing in a film but it is treated so listlessly here I had trouble keeping it straight. In fact, I could barely work out who was who, let alone which subplot they were involved with.

You know that annoying person who sits behind you in the cinema and keeps asking "Which one is he?" Well, Hunky Dory turned me into that person, and understanding film plots is one of my skill sets.

Best thing: The musical interludes give this some energy. They might have been better off just giving us a musical version of The Tempest.

Worst thing: The plot meanders in such a naturalistic manner you have to watch the entire thing to get it and it gives us very little in terms of enjoyment along the way.

See it with: Anyone who bought Bowie's Hunky Dory in original vinyl.


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