A Hot Summer in Swansea in 1976, A Review of “Hunky Dory” (2012)
From acclaimed Welsh director Marc Evans (“Patagonia”, “House of America”) comes a feel-good musical, comedy set in sunny 1970’s Swansea! “Hunky Dory” (2012) is the tale of a free-spirited drama teacher Viv (played brilliantly by Minnie Driver) who encourages her class of teenage misfits to partake in an unusual adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” set to a rocking 70’s soundtrack with music from David Bowie to Electric Light Orchestra. Deemed as the Welsh version for the “Glee” and “High School Musical” generations the film maintains a strong sense of realism vs. escapism, believable characters and a whole lot of charm that arguably could be reminiscent of “This is England”. The premise may sound strange and out there however it will pleasantly surprise its audiences.
A strong sense of the 70’s comes across well with the bright yet grainy effect throughout the film as well as the music capturing the nostalgia. The cinematography aids a new feel and helps challenge the traditional image of Wales (namely bad weather and fields of sheep!) with the use of sunny landscapes conveying Swansea as the place to be!
The young cast of new and upcoming welsh talent deliver stunning performances as rebellious, confused teenagers struggling with growing pains, school, relationships and summer heat. Each of them have a unique and mesmerising vocal range when it comes to the musical performance segments creating a surrealist notion to the piece. In a sense the vast amount of characters in the film could be further explored in a television series format due to several of the minor character’s sub-plots being unresolved. The characters are empathetic and identifiable providing a great deal of potential for future storytelling. Minnie Driver gives an outstanding performance playing a down to earth, happy-go-lucky Welsh woman, capturing an endearing humanity to her role as a teacher who truly understands her pupils teenage conflicts.
“Hunky Dory” is a must see and guarantees an uplifting feel good factor. Welsh cinema is truly making a name for itself thanks to gem’s like this and of course the critically acclaimed “Submarine” (2010).
Hayley Alice Roberts.