Franc Roddam's 1979 film of the Who's rock opera aligns sociological observation and romantic fantasy to create an extravagant, involving teenpic with a responsible intellectual grounding. The dark, grimy visual style meets the Who's naive plotting straight on to create a kind of mythic realism stirring, archetypal situations clothed in pseudodocumentary grit. The hero, a jumpy young mod played with commanding intensity by Phil Daniels, achieves one moment of perfect bliss and then self-destructs, a motif straight out of 19th-century romantic fiction.
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