Svengali Review

There's enough charming energy in this loose London music scene comedy to keep us entertained, but the plot drives us round the bend by refusing to go anywhere. Yes, this is one of those achingly British films that pulls the rug out from under its characters (and indeed its audience) every time they're threatened with even a moment of happiness.

Our hero is Dixie (Jonny Owen), who leaves rural Wales when he discovers a band on YouTube that he thinks he can manage into stardom. In London, he discovers that the Premature Congratulations (Michael Sosha, Dylan Edwards, Joel Fry and Curtis Thomson) are four hapless young men who make great music but have barely a whiff of common sense between them. So his efforts to promote them are more difficult than expected, especially since his record-exec childhood friend Horsey (Roger Evans) won't give him the time of day. Then just as Dixie's girlfriend Shell (Vicky McClure) gets fed up with his debt-incurring ways, The Prems suddenly become the hottest unsigned band in London.

Not that Dixie is capable of getting them signed to one of the labels clamouring for them. No, this is one of those movies in which everything goes wrong on cue. Not only does success remain tantalisingly out of reach, but Dixie also has problems with a loan shark (Michael Smiley) and a surly record-shop boss (Martin Freeman). And his father is dying too. These are far too many obstacles for a scruffy little movie, and not one of them feels either relevant or necessary. It's merely Owen the screenwriter torturing Owen the actor. He may be relentlessly charming on-screen, but it's all so contrived that we know it's pointless to care about anything.

That said, director John Hardwick keeps the film bouncing along with a terrific song score. Although we never get to hear The Prems (their breakout gig is irritatingly shown as an orchestral montage), which is just another example of how the script refuses to give the audience anything it wants. Despite setting us up for a sunny, enjoyable romp, it's all a huge let-down. This might be the way things work in the music business, but it makes for a deeply annoying movie.

Watch 'Svengali' Trailer



Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 81 mins

In Theaters: Friday 22nd May 1931

Reviews 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 5 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: John Hardwick

Producer: , Martin Root, Rob Small,

Starring: as Dixie, as Shell, as Jeremy Braines, as Ron, as Angie, as Tommy, as Francine Hardy, as Irish Pierre, Brian Hibbard as Dixie's Dad, Roger Evans as Horsey, as Himself

Also starring:



Jonny Owen Pictures