My 5-star scale rating: 3-1/2 stars (1/2 just for hair and costume work)
The theatrical release of this movie was so limited, I thought it was worth reviewing for its DVD release. It recounts the rise and eventual fall of Brian Jones (played by Ian Gregory), founder of the Rolling Stones and the driving force behind their early blues sound. In the days filled with the giant cult personalities like Lennon and Hendrix, none was bigger than Brian Jones, who could be considered the father of the modern "rock star" image. Jones died tragically at age 27 shortly after having been booted from the Stones. Like so many other precocious artists before and after Jones, the emotionally dependent, paranoid genius turned to drugs and other eccentric indulgences. The portrayals of Keith Richards (Ben Whishaw) and Mick Jagger (Luke De Woolfson) are far from the caricatures that may have become the current Richards and Jagger, but thanks in-part to great hairstyling and costumes they pull them off believably. The movie’s chronology bounces around but focuses on the last 3 months of Jones life, when a builder by the name of Frank Thorogood (Paddy Considine) was hired to work on Jones’ home having just completed work on Keith Richards home.
According to the film, Jones eventually begins to rely on Thorogood for other duties as well; cooking, chauffeuring, cricket opponent, sympathetic ear. In exchange, Frank gets ordered around by Jones at all hours of the night, made to make changes again and again on the same wall at Jones’ home, stiffed for his building wages and stiffed by Jones’ girlfriend. Perhaps because Jones had so little control over the rest of his life, he enjoyed the opportunity to control someone else’s, which ironically may have led to his death, originally ruled as "death by misadventure". In 1993 however, Thorogood supposedly made a deathbed confession. Since the only two people who really know what happened, Jones and Thorogood, are now dead, we’ll probably never know for certain. The final scene proposes an interesting encounter between the deceased Jones and Tom Keylock, the tour manager responsible for hiring Thorogood. In it, Jones thanks him for making him a martyr. Indeed, if Jones had lived longer as he was, debilitated by drug use, unable to write new music of his own, he may well have died after his star had faded out and his popularity long past its peak. Dying while still in the white-hot lights of rock stardom guaranteed his place on the tragically long list of performers who departed far too early but will live on as cult icons of theirs and future generations.
If you’re looking for a movie about the Rolling Stones, this isn’t it. This is definitely about Jones. Interestingly and noticeably absent are any Rolling Stones songs. Whether done intentionally in tribute to Jones or due to licensing issues, the soundtrack contains no actual Rolling Stones performances. It also has no songs with writing credits going to any of the Rolling Stones, neither "Nanker Phelge", the collective group name for which Jones would have received partial song writing credit, nor Richards or Jagger, the Glimmer Twins or any other Rolling Stones’ members. It does contain several covers of Robert Johnson songs, including Stop Breaking Down by the White Stripes. Parents be cautioned, it also contains a fair amount of sexual content-it is a movie about the late 1960’s music scene after all. Except for a few deleted scenes, the DVD has no bonus features.