- Matthew Turner
- 17 June 2014
Clint Eastwood delivers a disappointingly workmanlike account of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
In his directing career, Clint Eastwood has tackled both biopics (J Edgar) and films about iconic musicians (Bird), but he still seems like an odd choice to direct the big screen adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical: one can only assume he was a big fan of the Jersey Boys stage show. Whatever his reasons, the results are entirely watchable, albeit disappointingly workmanlike at the same time.
The film sticks closely to the format, structure and plot of the stage show, detailing the rise and not-quite-fall of four-man music group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, with each member taking a turn at narrating the story to camera. New Jersey hustler Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) and childhood friends Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young, reprising his stage role) and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) flirt with low level crime via a mob affiliation with Gyp DeCarlo (Christopher Walken) before finding success as a music group after their friend Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci, played here by Joseph Russo) introduces them to songwriter Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen). With three hits in succession, the band enjoy a meteoric rise to fame, but simmering internal tensions eventually threaten to tear the group apart.
The songs are nicely performed and the script duly ticks all the musical biopic boxes, even if it lacks a suitably show-stopping set-piece. There are, admittedly, a handful of nice moments (Clint's cheeky cameo, for one), but, for the most part, the film just skims the surface of the story and fails to invest it with any real emotion – there is no sense of danger from their mob connections, for example, while their personal lives are frustratingly thinly sketched. It also suffers from the curious decision to restrict the palette to tans and browns, leaving the production crying out for a bit of colour in more ways than one.
On general release from Fri 20 Jun.