Quadrophenia Review

Mixing a first-time director, a cast of youthful unknowns and a screenplay based on a "rock opera" concept album ought to have confined this one to the bin now occupied by the likes of Absolute Beginners, but somehow in 1979 all the pieces dropped into place and Quadrophenia became a cult classic thoroughly deserving of this re-release. 

The screenplay takes characters from The Who's 1973 album of the same name (Pete Townsend's tribute to the mods following his band in 1964) and throws them headlong into a tumult of sex an drugs and rock 'n' roll. Central character Jimmy (Phil Daniels) has a job he can't stand, parents he can't respect and a girl Steph (Leslie Ash) he can't convince. But at least he has enough money to buy fashion clothes, pills 'n' booze and a lambretta. 

The film follows him and the rest of his mod buddies around their West London hang-outs and then onto Brighton for a wild weekend where Jimmy has enough life-changing experiences - running battles with rival gangs of rockers, his first knee-trembler in an alleyway with Steph, learning that mod hero The Ace Face (Sting) eats humble pie with a day-job as a hotel bell boy - to make his head spin like the wheels of his scooter, as he contemplates suicide off the South Coasts's White Cliffs. 

Even 18 years on it's still awesome stuff, the impressive period detail detracting not a jot from the perennial coming-of-age drama. The action is powerful, the script streetwise, the music uplifting and the pacing superb. Best of all though is the cast, almost every one of them is now a familiar face. Daniels is stunning in the lead and all around him are performances Roddam could only have prayed for, creating characters and a way of life you'll remember for years.

Empire
February 1997