Bathed in an Instagram-inspired retro glow, Hunky Dory is a sentimental drama about a bunch of teenagers putting on a school production in Wales in 1976.
While it should have the benefit of authenticity as it's based on a true story, the storylines and characters are similar to those we've already seen in other musical dramas like Glee. There's a roll call of teenagers falling in and out of love, dealing with their parents' separations, and wondering if they're gay. Hunky Dory doesn't get into these trials and tribulations in any real depth, preferring to give us a nostalgic, hazy snapshot of teenage life during one of the hottest summers in Welsh history.
The film is centred on Minnie Driver's character, a failed actress who returns home to Swansea to teach at the local high school.
New to teaching, she's the only staff member with enthusiasm and faith in her kids, and has to deal with disapproving colleagues, an arson attack and tempestuous teenagers as she pulls together a rock opera version of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Driver does a great job in underwhelming company, and works hard to get the audience to care, even if she does bleat on too much about "self-expression".
The musical performances lack the energy and gloss of shows like Glee, but what you see here is more like what you'd experience at an average high school musical. That's not to say the kids can't sing and the band can't play, they can, it's just not as rousing or polished as we've come to expect.
Cast: Minnie Driver, Robert Pugh
Director: Marc Evans
Running time: 106 mins
Rating: R13 (violence, offensive language and sexual references)
Verdict: A retro, Welsh version of Glee