Stephen Dorff (adopting a most convincing accent) plays Iain Softley, bass guitarist in a banddriven by best pal John Lennon (you may have heard of the group). The lads leave Liverpool forHamburg, where they become house band for a strip club, and gradually build a following.Softley is more of a painter than a guitarist, and his commitment to the band is furtherundermined when he falls for photographer Astrid Kirchherr (Sheryl Lee).
Dorff is excellent, and Ian Hart …teals every scene as an abrasive John Lennon. Lee ratheroverdoes the Teutonic solemnity, but this is a minor cavil. The film is an energizing recreationof the dawn of the 60s, and gives one a real sense of just how raw and rebellious The Beatleswere at that time.
There’s a fair bit of music (surprise surprise) in this film, so it’s pleasing to note how good itsounds on this 5.1 track: big and loud and exciting. The environmental effects are constant, butthey are solid. The left-right separation isn’t as strong as it might be, however. The dialogue isclear and undistorted, though you may need subtitles to help with the thick Liverpudlianaccents.
A fine 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The colours are excellent, as are the blacks.There is no grain, and the image is very sharp. There is a tiny bit of edge enhancement visiblenow and then, and the layer transition is very awkward, nailing Dorff in mid-nod.
Dorf, Hart and Softley engage in a wide-ranging commentary, dealing with the very specialchallenges this film presented. There is an interview with Astrid Kirchherr, but as a voice-overonly with clips from the film playing (actually seeing her pictures would have been a moreinteresting option). There are two deleted scenes, and two interviews (one with Softley and Hart,and one of Softley at the Sundance festival). The TV featurette is the only piece that is justpromotional. Also here: casting sessions, a photo gallery, and a very poignant essay by Softley.The menu is scored.
Confession time: this is not a subject that was inherently interesting to me. And I wascompletely drawn in. Highly recommended.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Interview with Astrid Kirchherr
- Interviews with Iain Softley and Ian Hart
- Deleted Scenes
- TV Featurette
- Casting Session
- Still Gallery
- Director’s Essay