Director Marc Evans clearly knows what he's doing with a camera, but he fails to push the boat out here.
This purportedly comedic chronicle of a militantly daffy drama teacher (a game Minnie Driver) and her attempts to stage a rock opera version of 'The Tempest' in Swansea circa 1976 is a film that feels like it was concocted in some cavernous glass-and-steel boardroom located in the bowels of ‘WorldCorp Enterprises’.
You can visualise the boffins in their half-moon glasses at their blue sky brainstorming session where demographics, zeitgeists and box office forecasts are forged together like some convoluted equation. Yet the numbers just don’t add up. The film’s constituent parts range from The X-Factor and Hollyoaks to folksy mobile phone ads and the hideous working-class feelgood axis that runs from The Full Monty to Mamma Mia!
There’s nothing wrong with the fact that it pushes extra-curricular activities as way of escaping the banal drudgery of small town life, but there appears to be two entirely separate films here. One of them offers a miscellany of conventional growing pains (bullying, burgeoning sexuality, drifting apart from old friends) and the other covers the needlessly scatty process of bringing a form of progressive, liberal expression into an institution that’s lorded over by pantomime reactionaries.
But the film’s revolutionary zeal is somewhat muted by the fact that it appears to be set in some kind of sun-blissed sci-fi dystopia (AKA the mid-'70s) where teachers think nothing of telling their pupils just how much they despise them.
Director Marc Evans, the director behind the still-amazing proto-Paranormal Activity stonker, My Little Eye, is clearly a guy who knows what he’s doing behind the camera. With Hunky Dory, it’s not so much that he isn’t pushing the boat out, it’s that he’s lying face-down on the beach surrounded by empty lager tins and half-eaten pork pies.
Nothing wrong with a Brit triumph-over-adversity school-based comedy set in Wales.
Oh, there IS something wrong when it’s as winsome and unadventurous as this.
Minnie Driver as sweary/smokey inspirational teacher aside, not one destined for the annals of cinema.