Film Review: Svengali

SvengaliDirected by John Hardwick

Starring Jonny Owen, Vicky McClure & Michael Socha

As I walked out the screening of Svengali I overheard two people talking about it. They both agreed that some parts felt rushed and for a film about music…where was the music? I started to think, maybe they have a point. I don’t remember hearing much music, and everything kind of comes together so easily. Then I realised, although those elements may have some truth, it doesn’t matter. It focused and explored successfully what it was really about…passion.

Jonny Owen, also writer, plays Dixie an ingenuous but likeable music lover with a real ear for talent. He comes across a band on YouTube and decides to leave his Welsh hometown with his girlfriend Shell (McClure) for London in order to manage ‘The Prems’ with the help of his long-time friend Horsey (Roger Evans).  For the oblivious Dixie, it turns out that the hard part isn’t the music or the paperwork, it’s the people and their lack of belief belief in his management skills.

There’s barely a mediocre performance in Svengali, with some welcome cameos from the likes of Martin Freeman and real life music mogul Alan McGee. The scene stealer however comes courtesy of Matt Berry, with his humorous threats and mangled South African accent. The only appearance that seems forced and lazy comes in the form of Katy Brand’s mean Eastern European landlady.

Owen really excels in the lead and plays Dixie in a pitch-perfect lovable manner with enough drive and oblivious comments to impress the masses. Shell’s persistence to support Dixie no matter what adversaries he faces creates a genuine chemistry between the two.

The only glaring drawback is the uneven structure.  Scenes start to feel slightly pedestrian with Dixie constantly being challenged and some supporting characters are slightly undeveloped. However, these are all minor missteps made unnoticeable by the solid performances, the intriguing look at the British music industry and realistic look of East London.

Overall Svengali is a fun, funny, feel-good British comedy that will put a smile on your face.

3/5

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