Beatles / Norway / dir. Peter Flinth / 114 mins / Drama / stars Louis Williams, Håvard Jackwitz, Ole Nicolai Myrvold Jørgensen & Halvor Tangen Schultz
Based on the book by Lars Saabye Christensen, one of the all-time bestsellers in Norway, Beatles is a vibrant, superbly-acted coming-of-age tale about four mop-tops on the not-terribly-mean streets of Oslo. Like Liverpool and everywhere else in the 60s, Norway is undergoing radical political change. Teens are rejecting uptight morality and marching to the beat of Sgt Pepper. Kim, Gunnar, Ola and Seb become John, Paul, George and Ringo, come up with matching outfits, and rack their adolescent brains for a suitably English name for their band. Soon the Snafus have local gigs, no matter that they can’t really play instruments. Between numbers, the boys try to make sense of their world of unrequited and sometimes inappropriate love, interfering families, booze-soaked parties, and public embarrassment. Looks like they’re about ready for adulthood.
There’s a hilarious scene where one of the lads, smitten with a lovely young classmate, is invited to dine with her aristocratic family, only to discover to his discomfort that the jovial old man is a Dane, and therefore unintelligible. Awkward but good-natured misunderstandings follow; the film’s Danish director Peter Flinth, who has also directed Swedish productions, can no doubt relate. It was a huge coup for the Beatles producers to get clearance to use the band’s original recordings in their entirety. Sir Paul’s and Ringo’s trust was well-placed; this movie is one for the ages.