Director: John Williams
Cast: Luke Perry, Nicholas Galitzine, Lisa Dillon, Verity Pinter
Running Time: 89 minutes
Synopsis: A teenage boy discovers his unruly neighbour is really a disgraced Rock God who “died” 8 years ago owing a fortune in unpaid tax. The boy agrees not to reveal his secret on condition that he teaches him the dark arts of Rock Guitar.
Back in the 1990’s, before an overly-polished beauty pageant reboot, ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ made teen idols out of its’ young stars, including a fresh-faced Luke Perry (ask your mum). Storylines included date rape, gay rights and AIDS alongside the usual teen relationships and you were either Team Brenda or Team Kelly in support of Perry’s character’s romantic endeavours.
Fast-forward fourteen years to the casting meeting of THE BEAT BENEATH MY FEET; who fits the bill of ageing rocker, gruff but with a heart of gold? Luke Perry, once thrown forward, presumably stuck like glue and it’s a choice that pays off hugely as Perry brings an emotional gravitas to this independent comedy/drama/musical mix that takes it from a run-of-the-mill family flick to an interesting coming-of-age story with a distinctively-told message.
Perry is Steve, who used to be a famous guitar player, but is now hiding out in South London to avoid being jailed for tax fraud. He’s also harbouring a dark family secret and his guilt, mixed with his hidden identity, leaves him a bit of a loner with a passion for playing neighbour-disturbing loud music. There’s also some kind of injury, never fully explained, leaving him unable to play the guitar to his former glory. Cue upstairs neighbours Tom (Nicholas Galitzine), and his single-mum Mary (Lisa Dillon). Mary is anti-music, thanks to Tom’s no-good dad being in a band, so Tom has to keep his guitar-playing passion confined to the roof. When Tom discovers Steve’s former rock glory, and secret, he blackmails the loner into teaching him the secrets of success.
Aside from Perry, the cast of THE BEAT BENEATH MY FEET is made up of largely unknowns, and it’s lead actor Nicholas Galitzine’s acting debut. The nineteen year old delivers a performance that manages to convey the hurt and isolation Tom suffers as an outsider at school in an understated and compassionate manner. His burgeoning relationship with his mentor is never over-played, simply explored and he combines Tom’s raw musical talent and huge social insecurity with a thoughtful melancholy that never approaches exaggeration or melodrama.
The musical numbers in the film are a strange mixture; the final battle of the bands piece highlights Tom’s tender talent perfectly, as does a mobile-filmed duet with his mentor. There are several other numbers however, that whilst visually striking, seem slightly out of place as the tone wobbles towards indie music video production. The songs themselves, however, overcome the slight criticism and whilst you may not come away singing anything immediately anthemic, it’s a soundtrack that warrants a second listen.
[usr=4]THE BEAT BENEATH MY FEET screens at Raindance Film Festival again on Sunday 4th October and will also screen at Clapham Picturehouse on November 9th.
Raindance Film Festival runs until 5th October. Check out their website for more information on screenings and keep an eye on THN as we review our favourites from the festival.