October 1, 2020

1980-01-18 – The Press Democrat

1980 01 18 The_Press_Democrat_Fri__Jan_18__1980_

t8 PR‘SS Friday. January is. 1980

A movie that’s better than its name

NEW YORK— The results at my
(highly) informal survey about
“Quadrophenia” have beeny tabulat-
ed. They show that most movie-
goers thinhthis iseithera concert
film or a rock opera. or that the title
raters to a quadrophonic sound
track. Not true. This is a dramatic

film. one that's suitty and ed
and sometimes quite beau .It
happens to incorporate rock songs.

and to be saddled with a silly title.
Though it’ s by no means a movie for
everyone. “Quadrophenia” is some-
thing very special. It demands —

and deserves - some special allow-
ances.

“Quadrophenia” opening at Cod-
dingtown Cinemas in Santa Boss to-
day is set in England in 1964, and
populated by Mods and Rockers.
warring bands of teen-agers who
speak with such thick accents that
American audiences may find their
conversation indecipherable. For
this and other reasons. the film —
which is a hit in England — hasn't
traveled well.

But its foreignness has perverse
advantages, helping to recast situa-
tions that might seem commonplace
in an American end-oi-adolescence
movie, and making them just re-
mote enough to seem fresh. A gifted
new director, Franc Roddam. lends.
the film a clarity of emotion that
keeps it from becoming too confus-
ins

The story is derived very, very

, loosely from an album by the Who.
This album was an ambitious un-
. dertaking: It described a teen-age
boy. Jimmy. who was so acutely
sensitive to social pressures that he
developed the four-way schizo-
phrenia of the title. Jimmy’s condi-
tion was illustrated. rather than de-
scribed, by four separate melodies

— one associated with each mem-
ber 01 the Who — that eventually
merged into one transcendent
theme. The specific ending ot the
album called for Jimmy to swim out
to sea and scale an enormous rock.
Unlortunateiy tor the current film.
which does some floundering at the
finale. Ken Russell borrowed that
scene for “Tommy” several years
ago.

But “Quadro enia.” as directed
and co-written y Roddam. is per-
haps too raw to have culminated
with pie-in-the-shy. Jimmy. played
by a wonderfully avid-loohing actor
named Phil Daniels, is a cheerful,
unexceptionai fellow. by no means
the Who’s hypersensitive hero. He
is seen squabbling with his parents.
partying with his Mod friends.
working at a maiiroom job that’s
both dead-end and dull. These epi-
sodes. which are carried by the
boisterous enthusiasm of an excel-
lent cast. combine to form a slice-
ot-life movie that feels tremendous-
ly authentic in its sentiments as
well as its details.

The Mods-and-Rockers aspect of
the story might seem to date the
material. But Roddam is as con~
cerned with the general experience
of adolescence as he is with these
particular groups of people. And he
is able, in recreating the seaside
riots between these rival gangs. to
capture a fierce, dizzying excite-
ment that epitomizes a kind of
youthful extreme. Jimmy, who is so
electrified by his new identity as a
Mod that he makes a quick. thrilling
sexual conquest while the fighting
is going on. may never again feel
so fully at the height of his powers.
“Quadrophenia” fills the moment
with equal elements of regret and
celebration.

In a barely memorable shot at
the beginning of the story, Jimmy
is seen to be walking away from a

cliii— a cliff from which, at the end
ottheinovie. heappearstoiumpto
his death This disastrous attempt
at a flashback damages the movie,
which finally seems to be concerned
with nothing more morbid than the
end oi this boy’s naming youth. The
last minutes at the film are further
weakened by some last-minute in-
terjections oi the Who' 3 music.
which has until now figured into the
story more delicately.

Images of the group. up until this

po.int have been ghostly and unhi-
quitous. Their records play in party
scenes; their posters and photo-
grap hs decorate walls; Jimmy
watches the band on television
while his parents complain.Ji1nmy
himself looks considerably like the
Who' s Pete Townshend, and he has
the gawkiness that Townshend has
made such memorable use of in his

car.eer

When Jimmy. in one of the film’s
most stunning set-pieces. dives into
a crowd of dancers at a seaside
resort. as much to vent his frustra-
tion as to attract attention, the spir-

itresemhiesthatotaneariy Who
concert— the kind that concluded
with Townshend’s furiously smash-
ing his guitar.

Among the fine supporting per-
tormances in “Quadrophenia,” on a
par with Danieis’s superb Jimmy.
is Raymond Winstone's Kevin. an
old school friend Jimmy runs into
in a public bath. When they put
their clothes on. Jimmy realises
that his friend has become a Rock-
er; later, they share a conversation
about how important it is to join the
right group so you won’t be like
everybody else.

Leslie Ash is suitably heart-
breaking and heartless as the most
popular of the female Mods, and the
actors playing Jimmy's closest
friends are affecting. too. The mov-
ie includes a hilarious turn by the
Ace, the prettiest and suriiest blond
Mod. whoturns outtobe sbelihop
on the side. The Ace is played by
Sting. who is lead singer of a widely
praised new band. the Police.

— Janet Masha
New York Times Service