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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 27, 2012
This brilliant film from Wales is set in the long hot summer of 1976, when we had it like the Mediterranean every day for months (except in Ireland where it pelted down and I had to go for a `holiday'). We meet Vivienne May (Minnie Driver) who has returned from a failed career in London to become a teacher at a not so progressive South Wales school. She is one of those teachers who feel you should get more from education than just a tick box mentality to passing exams. And as such she wants to encourage the kids to `express' themselves.

In order to help in this process, she intends to put on the school musical, and she chooses Shakespeare's `The Tempest', but with up to date and `with it' music such as Bowie, Roxy, Music and ELO. I was intrigued straight away especially with a very school like version of `Life on Mars' with a xylophone and jars filled with differing amounts of water - brilliant. Well her efforts are received with mild disfavour to outright hostility. The rugby coach says acting is effeminate and won't let his `boys' take part, the splendid Hayden Gwynn as Mrs Valentine, is a sublime cow in her efforts to undermine Vivienne, who seems to let herself down through being caught at being pally with the kids, smoking, drinking, swearing and getting stoned.

The kids themselves are all played brilliantly especially the lad who plays the only gay in the village/ school. Then there is Davy who has a crush for Miss and more mixed hormones than most of his age, but he can fair belt out a tune. The arrangements and treatments of the songs are all at the high end of excellent especially a fairly obscure Roxy number. They are also rubbish at turning up for dress rehearsal and more akin to bunking off down the Lido than learning their lines. Well as the heat rises, so do the hormones, jealousies and the accusations which will all lead to an inevitable clash, albeit with a load of laughs along the way.

To say I enjoyed this is an understatement akin to saying Stalin might have been a bit naughty, it is just great, funny, human, and entertaining and it's Welsh. This is the best Welsh film since `Twin Town' and I have seen a fair few. Minnie Driver is not only great she is totally lovable and not any of the supporting cast puts in a bad performance. Special mention to the headmaster played by Robert Pugh (`Master and Commander' and `Robin Hood'), he plays the bumbling but kind hearted teacher in a virtuoso performance of under statedness. If you loved the seventies, you will love this, if you love musicals then look no further and if you want to see some life affirming cinema then, with this you have struck gold.
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on July 5, 2013
Loved, loved this JEWEL of a film. The kids were all so real, the musical numbers, inspiring. The problems and growing pains the kids are facing are universal, so I don't know of any group or demographic that would not be able to relate to this slice of high school life piece from an albeit more innocent time. This Aneurin Barnard kid blew me away. His voice is sublime. I bought the soundtrack too, and his rendition of The Who's Love Reign O'er Me is chilling; although it was left out of the film, it's the best track and those vocals are in another stratosphere. Minnie was her usual adorable, sassy self. Evocative cinematography, you really feel you are in the midst of a heatwave ca. Summer of 1976. I just loved the kids singing The Man Who Sold the World too (Bowie). OUTSTANDING.
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on March 25, 2013
This film has Minnie Driver at her best, a charismatic maverick producing a new twist on Shakespeare as a school play. The odd hip-ness of the 70s, the music, the social clashes and colorful sets are rich stuff. Adolescent tantrums and romances occur onstage and off; and are not limited to the adolescents. What a delightful surprise!
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on July 20, 2013
Minnie Driver and Aneurin Barnard are mesmerizing in this movie. I haven't been so pulled in by a movie, especially a musical, in ages. The soundtrack is fantastic with Bowie, Drake, ELO, Beach Boys, etc. I loved the innocence of the story and the talent. I see big things for Mr. Barnard in the future. His voice was just wonderful. If you are looking for a simple, enjoyable little indie musical, this is the one.
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on October 6, 2013
I am not sure if it's just because I'm not into movies "like this" because I definitely sometimes AM into movies "like this" but I found it to be slightly pleasant, but rather boring overall. If you want something that isn't too deep, or too funny, or too dramatic, or too unique, and you like movies where someone is trying to encourage an openness for art (and I'm a big fan of many forms of art, btw...) then it's possible you might like this movie a lot and worth a try. I played it while I was assembling furniture and it was okay for background listening, but I couldn't just sit still and watch it for any length of time because it was too boring to me.
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on June 30, 2013
Minnie Driver excels as the hip high school drama teacher trying to instill values to her working class students. The musical numbers are a delight. I really enjoyed this British import. From the folks that gave us Billy Elliot, if you liked that movie you will probably like this one.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 10, 2012
Many folks in the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival audience likened this one to "Glee" which they have seen on television. As a "Glee" virgin, I can't say one way or the other, but this entry from the UK was interesting, involving and sported a few youngsters I'd like to see again. In addition it's directed by Marc Evans ("Snowcake" and "Patagonia"), and he's always someone to watch.

We are in 1976 Wales. The UK is in a decline, the Falklands are still in the future, and some high school students are in a funk. An enthusiastic young teacher is inspired to adapt current popular music (David Bowie and The Beach Boys) into an accompaniment for Shakespeare's "The Tempest," using school talent. Many of the students are low income and some of the teachers see that as a sure bet for failure.

Be sure to suspend disbelief before you see:
* Minnie Driver ("Conviction") as a fairly non-traditional teacher. She runs a loose ship, but the students seem to learn, although some of us cringed when she shared a cigarette with one of her kids. Remember, it IS 1976 before smoking got such a bad name!
* Aneurin Barnard ("Citadel") had me asking, "Who IS this guy?" Handsome, capable and talented (he sings), I can promise you, we will see more of this hunk! Oh yeah, he's one of the students and he plays the irresistible Ferdinand.
* Robert Pugh ("Robin Hood") is the school principal, enlisted by our teacher to take on the role of Prospero.
* Haydn Gwynne (Lots of TV) is the teacher we love to hate. She is venomously class conscious, teaches by the book, and hasn't a warm drop of blood in her veins. She brings out the worst in our heroine, AND her students.
* Tomos Harries in his first role, is a tousle-haired blonde, cast as Ariel. His character has a sweet arc as a lad not quite sure of his sexuality.
* Darren Evans ("Submarine") is the angry misfit student cast as the angry misfit Caliban. He is suspected of arson.

Driver is Great Britain's answer to Meryl Streep when it comes to accents. I've heard her speak like a native from Ireland, "Bahston," Appalachia, Detroit, and now Wales. There are many more, but I haven't the space.

To my great delight, at the end they provide "the rest of the story" much as they did in "American Graffiti," with history and a touch of humor. Amazon has it in Region 2 only right now, but I have my fingers crossed.
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on May 28, 2013
I'm guessing this film isn't for older Americans since, from the other reviews, they couldn't understand Welsh accents or a modern musical format. I thought Aneurin Barnard was wonderful (what a voice!) and I loved the way 70's rock was incorporated into The Tempest. If you didn't like "Billy Elliot," perhaps you won't like this either.
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on February 15, 2014
Hunky Dory takes place in the 70's in a working class secondary school in Wales. The trials and tribulations of teens finding themselves take place within the framework of an original musical based on "The Tempest". Minnie Driver is young, hip teacher Miss May, who writes and directs the show and takes a personal interest in her students. Mega-talented actor, singer and major looker Aneurin Barnard (Richard III in Starz series "The White Queen") is Davy, who is nursing a broken heart after being rejected by his classmate, Stella. Other teen characters are facing crises of one sort or another, and are given believable portrayals by a fine young cast.

While I liked it, I sometimes found it difficult understand some of the dialog due to the Welsh dialect. Also, while the story is about teens putting on a musical, the movie itself is not a musical. Musical numbers are given short shrift until the end, when Davy puts out a rock star worthy performance in the play's finale. (A complete version of the songs should be available on iTunes and/or Amazon.)

Mind that this is not for the under 13 crowd, due to some language and situations.
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on August 21, 2013
I remember the summer of '76 as the long hot summer that just would not quit, I grew up in London and like these children was suffering through the heat in school uniforms just trying to get by. I was a couple of years younger than them but could relate to some of the stuff they were going through even though theirs was much more dramatised than my life. The film was great and I loved Minnie Driver and Aneurin Barnards standout performances. I had no trouble with the accents of course, and was disappointed to see people mark down the film because they had trouble understanding them, Welsh accents are really pretty and not hard to understand if you listen to them for a bit as are other regional British accents, standard english can be so boring and a good dialect can broaden viewing pleasure so much, try it? Overall a sweet film about a time past well captured, even if they did get a few of the styles wrong, I forgive them for the Adam ant faux pas as Aneurin Barnard looked "well fit" in it, as we say where I hail from!
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