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United Kingdom 1979
Directed by
Franc Roddam
115 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
David Michael Brown
4 stars


Synopsis:Jimmy (Phil Daniels) is proud to be a Mod but troubled in life. His hectic life partying all night, popping pills, picking up girls, his desperate attempt to be cool will soon unravel. After a weekend down in Brighton battling the rockers he is arrested. He loses his home, job, girl and, most importantly, his scooter.

On its original release Pete Townsend's rock opera, Quadrophenia was overshadowed by The Who's albatross, Tommy. Franc Roddam's cinematic adaptation never matched the sheer visual lunacy of Ken Russell's adaptation of the story of a deaf, dumb and blind boy who could play a mean pin ball but in many ways his understated realistic approach is more faithful to its source material.

Starring Phil Daniels in a career-defining performance as Jimmy the Mod, the film is full of dodgy cockney's wearing sharp suit's, driving their scooters, swearing and eating eel pie. Anglophiles will revel in this gloriously seedy view of 60s London. Shot on location in Brighton, Islington and the East End, the film is full of familiar young faces from British TV and film. Eastenders and The Bill fans will have plenty to look out for.

Hugely influential, the film helped kick start the new wave mod generation in the early 80s and was echoed in the Britpop phenomenon of the 90s. Without Quadrophenia and music of The Who, the likes of The Jam, Blur and Oasis would never have been as we know them.

Roddam handles the directorial reins with aplomb. The film is full of striking imagery; the scooters on their way to Brighton heading over the South Downs, a forlorn Jimmy sitting on Brighton Beach, a lone rocker being beaten up at the side of the Thames. There are also some scenes that are infamous for the wrong reasons; Jimmys "quicky" with Steph,(Leslie Ash) in a Brighton alleyway and Sting's daft display of dancing in his role of the über-mod, Ace.

Underneath the exuberant lives on display the film tries to show the hardships of growing up in London in the early '60s. Working class families, peer group pressure, drugs and relationships are all explored as Jimmy goes off the rails. Pete Townsend's lyrics are a fine counterpoint to the film's emotional finale. Quadrophenia is a must for fans of The Who and quality British cinema.




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