Once a part of a popular boy-band, Vince is now a middle-aged unemployed man desperately looking to play his music in anywhere for some money, but nobody is interested in his unfinished and un-imaginative tracks. While practicing the piano at a market square, a young drummer jams along with him and the pair has onlookers thrilled. The 2022 Netflix movie “I Used To Be Famous” follows the bitter-sweet friendship between the autistic teen drummer and the much older man who was in need for some inspiration.
Directed by Eddie Sterberg, the film is a great pick to watch with family. Newcomer Leo Long who is neurodiverse in real life, lights up the screen as Stevie, the teen drummer whose true love is music. He is both childlike and mature beyond his age in his portrayal of a teen who want to break out of the cloistered cocoon his over-protective mom builds for him. Ed Skrein on the other hand doesn’t have pop-star charm, but it fits well with the character of Vince ‘who used to be famous’. He does remind one of Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, but the vocals are incomparable. For a music themed movie, the songs in ‘I Used To Be Famous’ are mediocre and forgettable. But the beautiful friendship between Vince and Stevie is endearing.
Eleanor Matsura, who some may recognize from ‘The Walking Dead’, plays Amber, the single mom who gives up her own dreams to build a safe sheltered life from her son. I did expect a lot of drama pertaining to her character, and Amber is like a lot of onscreen moms, yet she is a lot more measured. Matsura’s performance is understated yet poignant, which helps keep the spotlight on the lead duo.
With a crisp 90-minute runtime, the film keeps you entertained despite its exploration of often seen tropes. For a change, the biggest conflict in the tale comes right in the middle of things, instead of unraveling in the ending. So, in a pleasant surprise, the climax is drama-free and heartwarming.
I loved the simple sweet ending and how the story never dilutes its attention from the main theme – the therapeutic powers of music and unlikely friendships. It’s a 7/10 from me.
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