‘I Used to Be Famous’ Review: Hold On to That Feeling

The title of this movie is a bit of misdirection. Yes, one of the main characters, Vince, was famous. He’s a boy band veteran who is 20 years past his peak popularity when the story picks up in the present day. But this is less a first person singular tale than one of a team effort.

Vince, played with a mostly winning ingenuousness by Ed Skrein, is trying to get his musical career back on track. It’s not going well — he’s taken to setting up his gear on top of an ironing board for an impromptu park performance in his South London neighborhood. There, he’s joined by an onlooker with a pair of drumsticks who makes joyful noises on a metal bench. He makes Vince’s electronic noodlings into something like a jam.

The kid is Stevie, who is autistic, and he’s played by the neurodivergent actor Leo Long. The seamlessness with which the actor and his compelling character fit into picture, directed by Eddie Sternberg, is the most noteworthy thing about it.

Vince pursues Stevie to a neighborhood music program, an inspirational drum circle headed by Dia (Kurt Egyiawan). Vince then tries to convince Amber, Stevie’s protective mother (Eleanor Matsuura), that a club gig could be good for the kid. He practically begs his former boy-band colleague, the still-famous Austin (Eoin Macken) to hear the duo, named The Tin Men by a club owner.

It’s all pretty predictable, right down to the transfer of don’t-stop-believing energy from Vince to Stevie, and the delivery of the inevitable line, “All he ever wanted was a friend.” This has the effect of making the finale, which actually takes an exit ramp off triumphalist clichés, genuinely surprising.

I Used to Be Famous
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 44 minutes. Watch on Netflix.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/15/movies/i-used-to-be-famous-review.html