Off the back of the Broadway success of the musical comes the movie: Jersey Boys, a musical biography of the Four Seasons’ rise to fame. Director, Clint Eastwood had previously never worked on a film quite like this, this being his musical directorial debut, and in many ways it shows. This strangely assembled film seems to flirt with the idea of being a complete musical, but never quite hits the notes.
Nevertheless, this is not exactly a criticism as it is actually a refreshing break from the standard musical film that operates as a tuneful tribute, propelled mostly by the power of the ballads churned out. The music is in here, but there is not much churning going on. It starts with Tommy DeVito (played by Vincent Piazza) pulling the strings, and the boyish Frankie Valli (played by Johnny Lloyd Young) following the crowd, dabbling in the petty neighbourhood crime his friends are embroiled in. Amid all this scene-setting, the music unexpectedly takes a backseat – instead, humour is in abundance, and it is the Newark, New Jewersy streetwise jesting that is most noticeable. This is the film’s strength: the chemistry on display is very powerful, and ultimately it is the performances of all four of the boys that hold the film together. Christopher Walken, who plays the notorious mobster Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo, is also a figure of much amusement; his performance demonstrates the softer side to crime, and how even the hardest hearts can melt when listening to the soothing voice of Frankie Valli.
The film slightly loses its rhythm during a long flashback segment that doesn’t quite work, and unfortunately drags its heels near the end, running out of doo-wop sounds to keep momentum. While Clint Eastwood has maybe directed a film that does not know what kind of film it is, choosing not to decide whether it really is a musical or not, this is most likely the charm of the it. Regardless, this is a beautifully composed film, and the colours and sounds of the 1960s are brought to life, albeit in an unorthodox way.
Jersey Boys is released nationwide on 20th June 2014.
Watch the trailer for Jersey Boys here: