Review – EIFF 2013 – Svengali


Film: Svengali

Director: John Hardwick

Production: Root Films

Writers: Jonny Owen

Main Cast: Jonny Owen, Vicky McClure

Screen Dates: Fri 21 June20:40  Cineworld, Sat 22 June 14:40 Cineworld


Rating: Walkout


It’s maybe not professional to walkout of a film, but if there’s nothing appealing other than the exit door, then it’s just wise to leave. Svengali in my mind is all the things that are wrong about British feature comedy. First of all it looks like a TV film, with the visual panache of a morning after kebab, I’m a firm believer that films for the big screen should look cinematic or attempt some visual flair and this looked like a late night Holyoaks, after some research, I discovered it was the directors previous credit before this film. Immediately the lead character Dixie, Jonny Owen, comes across as an over eager and over confident naïve dreamer that is so irritating it should come with a public health warning. Shell, Vicky McClure, his reliable and ever supportive girlfriend, why she is no one knows, follows him to London so he can pursue his dream of becoming a band manager, again, not much explanation as to why he wants to other than fame and fortune.

For a film that is about one man’s struggle, Dixie does seem to strike it consistently lucky, getting the interest of legendary band manager Alan McGee who plays himself, in fairness to Alan doesn’t look as bad thankfully giving everyone else’s wooden performances, then manages to get the band to agree to manage them by giving them a few cans of beer, and sells out a gig with just stickers and handing out cassettes. After the band fails to perform on stage yet still marks a successful night and exposed to all the bad jokes found from My Family’s waste bin, I couldn’t endure anymore.

I really don’t want to sound this horrible, but Britain doesn’t make enough films, particularly good comedy, which is the one genre that is most marketable domestically and abroad, yet this represents, for me, the common problem of UK films that have no authorship, originality, quirkiness, wit, genius, visual poise, stand out performances or generally selling points, other than it trying to sell some biggish named actors in cameo roles such as Martin Freeman, but hey, the Status Quo movie’s got Jon Lovitz. For a film about ‘music’ it had nothing to say about anything, Dixie talks about the days of good music being gone, yet dresses like a mod and is selling a band on its image and personality other than it’s music. It’s somewhat dated and an over used joke of someone from rural towns going to London and being such a fish out of water. I’d be surprised to see it make a cinema run, don’t be surprised to see it in the bargain basement basket in Wilco’s in a years time.

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