June 19, 2014 3:46 pm

Jersey Boys – film review

Clint Eastwood directs the film version of the hit musical about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
Renée Marino and John Lloyd Young in 'Jersey Boys'

Renée Marino and John Lloyd Young in 'Jersey Boys'

Jersey Boys is a Clint Eastwood musical: which would once have sounded like the oxymoron of the year. (We don’t count the off-the-chart anomaly of Paint Your Wagon, where Eastwood’s he-man tunelessness was joined by Lee Marvin’s.) The last person most of us would pick to direct a film of the stage singalong about crooner Frankie Valli, 1960s New Jersey delinquent turned chart-topping heartthrob (“Sherry”), is the actor who used to turn delinquents into morgue furniture.

From the later Eastwood, though, actor turned director, we have come to expect more variety: pacifist war movies (Letters from Iwo Jima); anti-racist, brotherhood-preaching cop thrillers (Gran Torino). Approaching zimmer age, Clint can even, evidently, cut a rug as a song-and-dance director. I never saw the stage show, but the film – containing more straight dialogue and straight drama, experts tell me – moves confidently for 135 minutes, with bright performances (Tony winner John Lloyd Young as Frankie outstanding), catchy numbers, a sparkle-and-sepia period look and one sublime in-joke for moviemanes. In The Deer Hunter Christopher Walken played a Vietnam draftee who sang the Valli hit “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” at an eve-of-flight bar-room stag party freighted with foreboding. (Cue the famous jump-cut to south-east Asian combat holocaust.) Walken is back in this film, now a Mafia grandee, and so is the song: man and music reunited in the inferno that is Hollywood, which consumes all things but occasionally, Phoenix-like, recycles them in bizarre new forms.


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