Sunday, 11 October 2009

Film Review: TELSTAR (2008)

Director: Nick Moran
Running time: 119 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 15

Watched on DVD Sunday 11th October 2009.


This is not the kind of film I would usually go out of my way to see, but it was leant to me by a colleague at work who asked me to review it, so here we are. I must say, first of all, that I found some of it quite shocking, but then I suppose the filmmakers were trying to give a true, down to earth, depiction of events.

The film tells the true story of Joe Meek and his rise to fame in early 60’s London, where he worked from a small studio above a handbag shop run by Mrs. Shenton. A hard man to get on with, Joe Meek was very driven, which he had to be as an independent producer. Something that we take for granted these days, but in the 60’s the music scene was dominated by the big studios and independents were very few and far between. Joe was helped by his business partner, a plastic’s manufacturer, Major Banks, also an unassuming character. Having had his first number one hit, “Johnny, Remember Me”, performed by John Leyton, the film tells how Joe wrote his biggest hit “Telstar”, performed by the Tornados. But having won awards for it, all of the royalties were frozen when a French composer claimed Joe had copied it from him. Addicted to amphetamines and gay, in a time when it was illegal, Joe slipped into bouts of depression and rage as he struggled to cope with everything. I won’t say any more about the plot, don’t want to give too much away.

Although I quite enjoyed the music and there were some outstanding performances, I found the graphic depiction of the gay scene quite shocking. Call me a prude if you like, it’s just my opinion. The general 60’s vibe came over pretty well, I really can’t speak for its authenticity, I wasn’t exactly ‘with it’ then (I was born in ’62). As I said, some great performances, particularly from Con O'Neill as Joe Meek, Pam Ferris as Mrs. Shenton, Kevin Spacey as Major Banks and JJ Feild as Heinz Burt. Honourable mentions go to James Corden as Clem Cattini, Tom Burke as Geoff Goddard, Ralf Little as Chas Hodges and Sid Mitchell as Patrick Pink. Over all, a quite enthralling film about a man tortured by his own sexuality and his desire for success. Personally, the film would have benefited from a little less focus on Joe’s gay relationships and a little more on his talent as a music producer.

My score: 6.5/10

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