Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Juvenile Delinquents
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary argues that “England’s first street film, about the turbulent Mods vs. Rockers music-motorcycles-fashion scene in 1964 (the year of the Brighton riots)” is “the most exciting, perceptive youth film since Rebel Without a Cause.” He writes that “it wasn’t made with an international market in mind” — meaning “there’s no preface for the uninitiated that defines and contrasts the warring Mods and Rockers”, and “the working-class characters speak with thick cockney accents” — but he notes that he “can’t see why Americans can’t identify with it”, given that “young viewers can relate to the Mods, who define themselves by their musical taste, revolutionary fashions, anti-social posturing, and anarchical brand of violence”. He further notes that “one can become extremely sentimental because director Franc Roddam has done a remarkable job of re-creating the youth scene of 1964: dark, wet London streets, empty but for the herds of Mods on Italian scooters and Rockers on heavy cycles in search of a rumble; dingy, sweat-filled clubs; greasy diners, pinball joints, back alleys, dance halls, etc.” He concludes his review by asserting that “this is a superb, powerful film, ambitiously directed by Roddam with wit, style, and passion”, and that “you can’t help feeling that adrenaline rush so often experienced in the mix-sixties”.
Given that most film fanatics these days weren’t alive in the 1960s, Quadrophenia may hold less personal appeal — though it remains a potent depiction of a “character we can all identify with”, someone who “represents all youths in the throes of growing pains, in desperate search for their identities”. As uncredited screenwriter Pete Townshend said in an interview:
I could still remember that feeling of struggling to fit in, something that happened to me when I was even younger, around 14, and everyone around me seemed to have got their lives on track. This is such a universal experience for young people that it has echoed.
Perhaps most representative of adolescent angst is beautiful Steph (Ash), an embodiment of the toxic MGTOW movement in that she “marries up” as soon as a new bloke holds dominance or interest. Daniels’ pain and bewilderment at Ash (and at life in general) are completely understandable, given he’s someone who “doesn’t fit in anywhere because he tries too hard to be different” and is “always more excited, angrier, or more frustrated than anyone else; to him every moment has great significance”. His final sequence with Ace Face (Sting) is an appropriately crushing denouement.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
Yes, once, as a cult favorite. Described at length in Peary’s Cult Movies 2.