Film Review: Hunky Dory (2012)

on Thursday, March 01, 2012
'Hunky Dory' (UK Release: 2 March '12) // Words: Saam Das

Named after the 1971 David Bowie album, and also containing adaptations of his music, 'Hunky Dory' takes us back into the 70s and the glowing setting of the summer term at a Swansea secondary school. Minnie Driver stars as a drama teacher battling against love, teenage rebellion and a lack of support to create an ambitious contemporary take on 'The Tempest'.

Whilst watching 'Hunky Dory', it's difficult not to displace the notion that this is something of a Welsh 'High School Musical' - it follows the formula of melodrama, singing and schools rather closely. However, there is a certain quintessential charm about the film, perhaps helped by its more leftfield musical choices, taking it beyond the realms of another 'Glee' and into something altogether more palatable.

There are problems with 'Hunky Dory'. The script falls down on occasion - for example, social studies and physical education teachers being the nemesis of drama is somewhat confusing as surely from a traditional academic perspective, all three would be equally derisory? More importantly, many of its plot strands are left unresolved, leading to a rather unsatisfying conclusion that makes the film resemble more of the first part of two part TV series than a feature film.

The acting is accomplished for a predominantly youthful cast, who are generally a bit too attractive, which makes for a highly unrealistic bunch of 1970s schoolchildren. Similarly, they are all unfeasibly talented musically, running through impressive arrangements of the Beach Boys, The Byrds and Nick Drake effortlessly. But perhaps there's something special in the Welsh waters.

The likes of 'Glee' and 'High School Musical' have a lot to answer for in many respects. However, in 'Hunky Dory', their influence has inspired something at the very least pleasant, if little more. Director Marc Evans just about manages to steer 'Hunky Dory' so that it is neither an antidote nor a shameless reproduction of its American counterparts, although ultimately the film lacks the fortitude to complete the different journeys at its heart.

★★★ (3/5)

'Hunky Dory' is out in UK cinemas on March 2nd.

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