It’s not groundbreaking, but it doesn’t pretend to be. This is a light-hearted, charming flick about music bringing two unlikely friends together.
This review of the Netflix film I Used to Be Famous (2022) does not contain spoilers.
Eddie Sternberg’s first feature-length film, I Used to be Famous, stars Ed Skrein as Vince, a washed-up former pop star, and newcomer Leo Long as Stevie, a talented young drummer who happens to be autistic. The film’s premise is simple, yet effective. Vince’s career has long been over, but he’s desperate to get back in the game. He spends his days busking the streets of Peckham and desperately trying to convince local venues to book him. One day he meets Stevie, and an impromptu jam session between the two goes viral. The former boy band superstar and Stevie develop a bond over their mutual love of music and Vince persuades the young drummer to start a band, much to the dismay of Stevie’s overprotective mum, Amber (Eleanor Matsuura).
The film gives a sobering look into the harsh realities of reaching fame when far too young. As a young man, Vince sacrificed his teenage years for a career in a cut-throat industry that spit him out when it was done with him. Watching his pathetic attempts at trying to get back even a fraction of the stardom he once enjoyed was quite taxing. But as the film progressed, we got to see Vince grow as a person through his friendship with Stevie. It was a real joy watching Stevie also become more confident not just in his abilities as a musician, but also in terms of becoming more independent as he’s entering adulthood. If anything, the character development in I Used to be Famous is spot-on. By the end, almost everyone is better off for having found each other.
I Used to be Famous is a charming and unpretentious offering. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Leo Long is himself neurodivergent, and found his portrayal of Stevie not only enjoyable but also eye-opening. Ed Skrein does a great job as an ex-famous boy band member filled with regrets and trauma trying to make sense of his unfulfilled adulthood.
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