Monday, 29 December 2014

Hunky Dory (2011)

Set in a Welsh comprehensive school during the famed long hot summer of 1976, Hunky Dory sees keen drama teacher Vivienne (Minnie Driver) fighting sweltering heat and general teenage apathy to put on an end of year rock and roll musical version of Shakespeare's The Tempest, that David Bowie would be proud of and, to engage her students, she uses hits of the time with the cast delivering pleasing covers.

The Radio Times reviewed this as 'Glee directed by Ken Loach' and I can totally see why; there's a hefty dose of social realism to get you thinking alongside the attractive teens singing classic songs that get your toes tapping, but the emphasis is firmly on the realism and not the perfect stage musical moments.  Director Marc Evans, who gave us the wonderful Snow Cake and the interesting but bloody Resurrection Man, delivers an underplayed take it or leave it style coming of age drama that totally nails the blistering, almost somnambulant hot summer vibe and is rich in nostalgia for the mid to late 70s thanks in no small part to the hipstamatic texture of cinematography. 

It's just a shame that there's not enough to invest in the characters and story; it's eminently watchable but I never truly felt emotionally attached to the characters despite great performances from Driver and Aneurin Barnard to name but two in a cast full of familiar faces - in fact I only really felt a connection when Evans employed a series of 'what happened next' captions for each character over the closing credits.

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