Joe Scott (Craig) is a burned-out Hollywood star. Struggling on the verge of mental collapse, he is further shaken by the death of his childhood friend Boots (Max Deacon). His reminiscences of growing up in a small English seaside town throw perspective on his current plight...
Having graduated from short films, music videos and documentaries, Baillie Walsh is a relative newcomer to feature-length fiction. He’s also good mates with Daniel Craig and openly admits that if it weren’t for his support, Flashbacks Of A Fool would never have been made.
Friendship like that can be a help and a hindrance. On one hand, it’s hard enough for a filmmaker to get anything made at all. And yet, while Craig isn’t known for choosing his material recklessly, in a situation like this there is the danger of the script going into production before it’s strong enough, or - as is the case here - when it’s not really right at all. Whether or not you know about the offscreen friendship of star and director, there’s an inescapable sensation that pervades Walsh’s film: it’s not quite the story he originally wanted to tell.
In fact, there are two good, if familiar, stories here: Brit star Scott (Daniel Craig) does more than enough cocaine to assist his habit of banging models two at a time in his Malibu mansion. He’s also fallen off the A-list and is having trouble getting work, and very public spats with his agent. However, despite his narcissism, he is shocked when he learns of the death of his old best friend, and he wanders out into the Pacific for some ocean therapy. Back to 1972. Joe is a naïve, handsome 15 year-old, who has one hell of a coming-of-age summer holiday involving local princess Ruth (Felicity Jones) and Mum’s friend from two doors down (Jodhi May).
‘Flashbacks’ manages its details well, but can’t control a much bigger problem - the titular conceit. It brings to mind Paul McGuigan’s Gangster No.1, which contains two superb performances (Paul Bettany and Malcolm McDowell), but is crippled by the fact that never for a second can you believe they’re the same character. Here, Walsh sets up both the contemporary scenes and the flashbacks (there are really only two) nicely, garners a rash of solid performances from the whole cast, and even creates a devastatingly effective set piece. But those two threads just won’t weave together, which is as huge a problem as the schism itself.
An array of small successes cant support the crushing weight of the malformed screenplay. Not a complete loss by any means, though, and Walsh is a talent to keep an eye on.