The Beat Beneath My Feet

Directed by John Williams
Starring Luke Perry, Nicholas Galitzine and Lisa Dillon

by Joanna Orland

A formulaic concept at its core, The Beat Beneath My Feet impresses with its unique voice and endearingly catchy songs.  The film puts a new spin on the classic cinematic premise of young awkward boy meets grumpy older man who used to have a life full of promise but now has a haggard soul.  While the boy character originally seeks help of older man, the film ends with older man’s life being profoundly changed by boy.  This has been seen time and time again on the big screen, but none until now have starred Luke Perry as a faded rockstar who’s faked his own death alongside newcomer Nicholas Galitzine in a star-making performance as teenager Tom who suffers from depression, social awkwardness, bullying and finds songwriting and guitar-playing as his only solace.  Things begin to change for Tom as the friendship between him and Perry’s rockstar blossoms as they help each other overcome their issues.

The performances in this film are outstanding.  Luke Perry plays Steve, the disabled and faded star who spent his youth as a 90’s guitar hero reminiscent of Kurt Cobain.  Steve blames himself for the death of his three-year-old son and unable to forgive himself, he fakes his own death and finds himself living in a council flat in London, neighbouring Tom and his mother.  Perry gives a minimal performance, downplaying the rockstar persona of Steve and focusing on the human aspect of the character.  His guilt, grief, disability and fondness for Tom are at the heart of his portrayal which is gripping in every scene.

Nicholas Galitzine is clearly one to watch with his excellent debut film performance.  Bearing a slight resemblance to Nicholas Hoult from About A Boy + 10 years, Galitzine’s characterization of Tom is fascinating to watch, but it’s his musical talent that takes this performance to the next level.  In the Q&A which followed the Raindance Film Festival screening, director John Williams discussed how the audition process for Tom included actors performing a rendition of Radiohead’s hit song Creep as Williams felt it embodied the character, and would also test the actors’ musical skills in relation to the emotively awkward lyrical content of the song.  A quick Google search later, and here is Nicholas Galitzine performing a cover of Creep on his Soundcloud page.

This brings us to the third star of The Beat Beneath My Feet – the music.  Song and score composition is credited to Geoff Jackson, Phillip Jewson and Paul Cartledge.  Nicholas Galitzine brings these songs to life in his performance, but director John Williams does something even more impressive with them as he turns them into music video segments within the film.  It’s blatant that Williams comes from a music video background, having directed videos for artists including Coldplay and Radiohead.  His use of live action and animation melded seamlessly is visually stunning and a delight to watch within this already joyous film.

Ironically, the only criticism I have for this film is related to these musical numbers.  The first one that appears in the film is near the start as Tom sings about being a Loser, envisioning a music video with a loser motif at every turn.  As this is visually minimalist compared to later music videos segments of the film, I took this as merely an insight into Tom’s mind, not expecting any further elaboration on the music video idea.  The second segment seems to come out of nowhere as it appears so much later in the film, it breaks the pace without warning, drastically changing the film from comedy/drama to musical.  After the second musical number, the following numbers feature at a much better pace, allowing the audience to grasp the idea which is wonderful in its concept and delivery.  It’s just a shame they don’t feature more in the first half to help the consistency and pacing of this absolute gem of an idea.

It’s hard to believe that this is only director John Williams’ first feature film as well as Nicholas Galitzine’s debut performance.  The talent on display in The Beat Beneath My Feet is immense as it flies the flag proudly for independent cinema.  Please support this excellent film by helping it to fund its distribution, marketing and getting its soundtrack published for the masses.  I just basically really want to hear these songs again!

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