Iain Softley directs Stephen Dorff, Ian Hart and Sheryl Lee in this romance following the love triangle between John Lennon, early band member Stuart Sutcliffe and a German photographer set around The Beatles pre-fame days in Hamburg.
A favourite from my teens, I never remembered just how much sex and nudity there was in this. A lovely surprise in that respect. Softley’s debut is visually rich, the Hamburg strips bars seem like a direct homage to Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s sleazier arthouse stylings. The Beatles Begins stuff can be a little too cute at times (meeting Ringo feels particularly crowbarred in) but the music is pretty toetapping. Getting modern grunge artists to punk up and speed up the energy of the rock ‘n’ roll hits the almost fab five would have played is a wonderful conceit. Ian Hart’s John Lennon is pleasingly abrasive and witty. Dorff and Lee are cast for their prettiness rather acting talent and he shows them up in quite a few scenes. One thing I noticed on this rewatch was just how much plot is raced through in the first 25 minutes. Everything is set up and primed in a breathless rush. It make the last hour seem a bit lackadaisical in comparison. Still very good but almost as if the movie runs out of uppers long before tragedy strikes.
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