The Beat Beneath My Feet, 2014.
Directed by John Williams.
Starring Luke Perry, Nicholas Galitzine, Lisa Dillon, Verity Pinter, James Tarpey, Simon Lowe.
A boy receives guitar lessons from a washed-up rock god living in the council flat below his, keeping it a secret from his God-fearing mother and the bullies that torment him at school.
You’ve gotta love a good indie film with great original songs and a heartwarming story. This is exactly what The Beat Beneath My Feet is all about: good rock music to the beat of South London streets, featuring 90210’s Luke Perry as Max Stone (aka Steve), a former rockstar running from tax evasion charges and the grief and guilt over his dead son. He moves from place to place under a fake name, claiming disability benefits for a myriad of health problems, until one day he meets Tom Heath (newcomer Nicholas Galitzine), the boy from upstairs, who’s put two and two together and is asking Max to teach him how to play the guitar.
Max, masquerading as Steve, acquiesces to the boy’s demands on pain of being reported to the authorities. This means he finally stops playing his loud metal music full blast on stadium-size speakers in his living room, which pleases Tom’s mother Mary (Lisa Dillon) greatly. Enough to invite him upstairs for dinner.
It’s not all smooth sailing for either of them, of course—Mary hates rock music as it reminds her of her ex-husband and Tom’s father Chris (Ian Virgo), who’s a wannabe rocker himself, so she won’t allow Tom anywhere near it. Dragging him to church every Sunday, she hopes to instil in him a passion for the more classical stuff, when all it really does is bore Tom to death. Yet she means well, as most mothers do, and doesn’t fail to see that her son has talent oozing out of every pore.
With subplots leading us through Tom’s school life and his rocky relationship with classmates Damien (James Tarpey) and Jonah (Simon Lowe), as well as his burgeoning crush on fellow musician Felix (Verity Pinter), parallel to Max getting closure for his past sins, the film follows a rather fulfilling emotional journey. The performances are great, as are the vocal abilities of both Nicholas Galitzine and Verity Pinter, whose performances at the Bedford Battle of the Bands become the talk of the town.
This is director John Williams’ first feature film, one crafted with love by a production company enamoured with music since their last feature City Slacker. Featuring a tremendous soundtrack by John Fairhurst, Paul Cartledge, Geoff Jackson and Phillip Jewson, The Beat Beneath My Feet has a sound of its own that’ll have you tapping your feet as you watch. Both Max’s and Tom’s sounds are unique, immersive, and revealing about the inner world of their talented and tormented souls. While Max carries grief, guilt and rage from a life lived on full speed now grinded to a halt, Tom’s music carries equal measures of gloom and hope, influenced by his dealings with bullying, self-harm and isolation, and a deep sense of where he wants to be in the world.
Williams’ background in music video and animation influenced the aesthetic of The Beat Beneath My Feet, incorporating music video segments for Tom’s songwriting and making it feel like a compilation of Tom’s debut album set to the backdrop of his coming-of-age story. The unique style of animation fits the jagged world of Tom rather well, offering a window into his imagination.
Following two sold-out premiere shows at Raindance, The Beat Beneath My Feet will screen again at the Clapham Picturehouse in London on November 9th at 2pm, with a Q+A session with producers, the director and members of the cast following the screening. More information here.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★★★★ / Movie ★★★★
Kat Kourbeti – follow me on Twitter.