Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Directed & Written by: Michael Dowse.
Produced by: Allan Niblo & James Richardson.
Director of Photography: Balazs Bolygo.
Edited by: Stuart Gazzard.
Music by: Graham Massey.
Released by: Sony.
Country of Origin: Canada/UK. 92 min. Rated: R.
With: Paul Kaye, Beatriz Batarda, Kate Magowan & Mike Wilmot.
DVD Features: Making-of documentary (40 min.). Featurettes: "Frankie Wilde: The Rise"; "Frankie Wilde: The Fall"; "Frankie Wilde: The Redemption."

Following the downfall and recovery of European DJ sensation Frankie Wilde, several real-life DJs reminisce about Wilde's fame and excesses. Beautifully shot on location, the film successfully captures Ibiza's vibrant nightclub scene. This droll mockumentary is then intercut with "reenactments" of Wilde’s hedonistic lifestyle. However, things go awry (the rough meaning of the slangy title) when Wilde loses his hearing, causing his career and lustful marriage to fall apart. He seals himself off from the world, becoming a shaggy-haired hermit. It isn't until he overcomes his cocaine addiction - personified by a giant badger he only sees when he is high - that he begins to turn his life around, leading to enlightenment and redemption.

From a limitless Dionysus to a suicidal maniac, Paul Kaye does a spectacular job playing Wilde, capturing the character's inner and physical struggles with a slight comedic twist and manic energy. The film, like Wilde, is bipolar: a caustic satire on celebrity and a softhearted love story as Wilde falls for his lip-reading instructor, an attractive deaf woman who can match him drink for drink. It feels like two films in one, and of the two halves, it’s the conventional recovery/romance that carries more weight and could have stood on its own without the mockumentary.

DVD Extras: The featurettes are hysterical, consisting of deleted or extended scenes, including a humorous interview with Wilde. (Commenting on Ibiza’s sexual freedom, he declares “The bum is the new p----.”) These clips are the most rewarding part of the extras.

The making-of documentary takes the viewer on location, revealing how the actors were cast, and what went right (and wrong) during the shoot. For example, half of Paul Kaye's wardrobe came from his own closet. In another anecdote, director Michael Dowse explains how the producers were almost sued by a club for destroying equipment. As informative as it may be, it is not worth 40 minutes. Interviews drag on, and the visuals are lackluster. Michael Wong
September 20, 2005



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