Director: Julien Temple
Genre: Feature Film/Musical
Absolute Beginners is a 1986 British rock musical film adapted from the Colin MacInnes book of the same name about life in late 1950s London. The film was directed by Julien Temple, featured David Bowie and Sade, and a breakthrough role by Patsy Kensit. The film was screened out of competition at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival.
Upon its release on 18 April 1986, Absolute Beginners received immense coverage in the British media. At the time, the British film industry was perceived as being on the point of collapse (with the recent failure of the film Revolution). However, the movie was panned by critics and became a box office flop. Some of the criticisms included stylistic anachronisms, such as the mini-skirt and decidedly 1980s music from the likes of the Style Council and Sade, the bowdlerisation of Kensit's character (Crepe Suzette had been depicted as a promiscuous "negrophile" in the book), and the casting of Bowie, who made it a condition of his musical contribution.
Absolute Beginners has subsequently gained status as a cult movie, in part due to its soundtrack.
Julien Temple's underrated "Absolute Beginners" provides an unsettling portrait of London circa 1958. The film has been criticized for its lack of character development and for its last-minute attack on racism, and although these flaws are real, there is much worth seeing and hearing in this flashy study of the emergence of the British teen...
There was nothing in the picture to which you could attach hope. You couldn't say, 'Yes, it's terrible, but it has good music', or 'Yes, but it's got wonderful performances', or 'Yes, but you really care about the characters', or 'Yes, but there's some great dance numbers'. The music, the performances, the characters and the dance numbers added up to one of the least attractive films of the decade.