As a huge fan of Minnie Driver, I will happily admit to an inclination to watch any film in which she appears. Hell, I even saw that Disney Tarzan movie in which she wasn't even on the screen. So, call me biased. But not even I, a card-carrying member of the MD club, could bring myself to say anything in support of her latest venture, a Wales-set nostalgia-fest entitled Hunky Dory. La Driver plays a teacher. But not just any teacher, of course. Oh, no. MD plays a wacky, slightly f**ked-up teacher whom all her kids adore and who wants to get the kids to put on a big end-of-term show. What show? The Tempest. But not just any Tempest. Oh, no. This will be a Tempest the likes of which you have never seen, and will never want to see, ever again, for as long as you live. Yes, it's The Tempest, but with the songs of David Bowie, and others, performed by the kids, all of whom are either excellent singers or excellent musicians, or both. Which is handy. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the plot. The kids have some issues which get in the way: one might be an arsonist, one is a bit mental, one is, surprise, gay, and one doesn't fancy someone, but fancies someone else instead crazy! Not all of the teachers approve of Driver and her zany plans. Boo! Hiss! But Driver being Driver, she perseveres, or, rather, the plot just trundles on, avoiding any genuine conflict, any genuine character development, any genuine engagement, anything genuine at all. Every five minutes or so there is a musical number featuring the aforementioned eerily note-perfect singers, accompanied by other kids hitting milk bottles or blowing into recorders. Then one of the kids will have a strop, tell the headmaster to f**k off, storm out, and oh, no raise very real doubts that the show will go on. But, of course, the show will go on, even if someone burns down the school hall. Who burned it down? Doesn't matter (and we never find out) because the show can be put on in someone's garden instead! Hurrah! Hurrah for Miss Minnie and her wonderful pupils! Just when you think it can't possibly get any worse, the finale introduces, from nowhere (spoiler warning) some... I can hardly bring myself to say it... some... oh, dear God, make it stop... some shadow puppets. Shadow puppets. Where did they come from? No, really, where? And who made them? And when did anyone get any time to practise with them? And then, as the end is finally in sight, and you get over your paralysing envy of the two people who were brave enough to walk out an hour earlier, the makers of this narcissistic, self-indulgent, dramatically fake, vacuous, inept, embarrassing bore pull off their greatest trick. You know how at the end of some films they have little on-screen summaries of where the characters are now? Fred works in a chip shop in Chippenham, and it's ironic cos all the way through the film he was always eating chips! You get the idea. They do that here, and it's indefensible and crass, for so many reasons. 1. We hardly know these characters at all, and certainly don't care about them, at all, so this little precis of their later lives is totally irrelevant. 2. Using the Falklands war to try and add a little gravitas to such a trivial and gravitas-free film is offensive and opportunistic. 3. You're just prolonging the agony roll the credits, make it stop, let us out of here.
I have seen many, many films in my time (far too many, probably) but never before have I been so tempted to walk out. This temptation began within the first five minutes, when I realised, with grim certainty, that here was one of those films where they compiled the soundtrack first and made the film around it. Photogenic kids singing Bowie, Drake and EL-effing-O. Minnie. The 1976 drought. Hey, this thing practically writes itself. No, it doesn't. It's a nightmare. Two hours and seven quid I will never get back.