Synopsis & Review I Used to Be Famous, British production comedy drama film by Eddie Sternberg
20 years after the peak of his career as a member of a famous boy band, Vince now lives alone and tries to find a way to introduce his songs.
By accident, he met Stevie while singing in the middle of the market. They then formed a band and appeared in an event. Is success in front of them?
I Used to be Famous is a British production comedy-drama film by Eddie Sternberg which was released internationally as a Netflix original on 16 September 2022. Featuring Ed Skrein in the lead role, the film’s premise is light and doesn’t have any mystery or twist to it.
But what we hope for is that this film is able to process simple stories with good emotions, like comedy-drama films of this kind. Is it really like that? Check out the following review before you decide to watch it.
Vince is a former member of a famous boyband whose popularity has faded since 20 years ago. Now he only comes to the café one by one to offer himself so he can fill in the live music at that place.
Unfortunately, he only received rejection after rejection. One reason they don’t want to accept him is because he doesn’t have a lot of followers on social media.
By carrying only his keyboard and synthesizer everywhere, which is now supported by an ironing board, Vince tries to attract people’s attention in a crowd. There were always people who immediately ridiculed him, but he didn’t care.
Suddenly there was a teenager carrying drumsticks to the rhythm of the song by hitting the iron chair he was sitting on. At first Vince was annoyed, but when people started gathering and watching them, Vince got excited.
However, suddenly the teenager lost focus and was immediately picked up by his mother. Apparently, the teenager named Stevie is autistic.
At this point, Vince felt very weak and hopeless. He had to enter the bazaar at the church just to get free food and had no money even just to buy a drink. Vince had registered with a job seeker agency with only musical skills without having a license.
After returning from the place, a woman at the market showed a video of her appearance with Stevie yesterday, which turned out to be liked by thousands of people. Vince used this as capital to get a show place at the café he likes.
The cafe gave him 2 weeks of preparation time to perform at the band’s parade event. The main obstacle he has to go through is permission from Amber, Stevie’s very protective mother. Because when they visited their house, Vince and Amber had a fight.
Stevie then develops an autistic disorder. Amber tries to find drumsticks to calm Stevie while Vince teaches Stevie the rhythms he learned in the church band.
Seeing that Vince was able to calm Stevie down, Amber put a little faith in him. Vince and Stevie began regularly practicing and perfecting their songs, until it was time to perform. They came carrying musical instruments plus some kitchen pots in addition to percussion.
The two songs flowed smoothly and received a standing ovation from the cafe’s end. But Vince’s ego started talking. He added one more song that made the audience bored.
One of the visitors tried to taunt Stevie which made Vince angry and hit him. Vince was kicked out of the cafe right in front of his best friend, Austin, who was about to see his performance.
Vince was certainly devastated. Because of that incident, Amber also forbade him to meet Stevie again. He felt his new career was doomed before it developed.
Vince then watches a video of his late sister. He felt sad because he was not by his sister’s side when she died because she was having a concert in America.
The death of his sister made him stop his career. Vince then visits his mother to ask for his brother’s harmonica, but his mother seems to ignore him.
Meanwhile, Stevie wants to live a more independent life without bothering his mother. He went to the music museum himself, even found a venue for their band with a flyer he printed himself. And he managed to get the stage schedule.
Stevie then informs Vince of this. Vince also came to the church music group and showed his hidden talent as a music teacher. He is also offered a position as a new music teacher. Amber put her trust in Vince again because of this.
Suddenly Austin contacted Vince and offered him to be one of his concert performers. But he was surprised when Austin’s manager said that Stevie could not be brought along.
With a heavy heart, he tells Stevie about this. Stevie supports Vince moving forward, even though a sadness creeps up inside of him.
Vince was offered a contract by Austin’s manager. Will he continue his new career without Stevie? Or did he reject it and crawl back up from the bottom with his new best friend? Keep watching this film until it’s over. Get ready to be moved by what Vince did for Stevie’s birthday!
As a former member of a famous boyband in his time, of course living on the streets without a job and being in economic trouble is not an ideal picture for anyone, including Vince. But he never tires of offering his talents to be showcased, even though he always gets rejected.
In fact, his former bandmates have become famous and have a glorious music career. More or less, this made his mind depressed.
Apart from that, the death of his sister, which he could not attend to, is also a chronic pain that is difficult to get rid of. At least these two mental burdens continued to accompany him for 20 years after his popularity waned.
Vince then meets a talented teenager named Stevie. Unexpectedly, their combination succeeded in creating opportunities for both of their musical careers. During the conversation, Stevie described his aspirations to become a great musician someday.
Vince then asked about the drummer who became his idol. Stevie mentions an unpopular name, but he calls Bach as one of his idols. Vince says of course Stevie wants to be like Bach, but this statement is immediately dismissed by Stevie by saying that he just wants to be himself.
Unlike Vince, who has always thought that being a musician and performing on stage in front of thousands of spectators is to be like his idol, or in his language, “to be someone”.
He was never himself during a boyband member. In fact, he uses the popular name Vinnie D as his artistic identity.
This is what needs to be considered to become a good musician. We may indeed use other musicians as idols and their music as inspiration, but we still have to instill our own identity in our personalities and also in the works we create.
If you have this, of course our work will be far from the impression of plagiarism. As an aspiring musician, Stevie already understands this.
In his journey in this 1 hour 44 minute film, Vince is depicted little by little starting to understand the true concept of fame. In the final third of the film, indeed he is faced with a dilemma to become famous again, but without Stevie being involved.
But on the other hand, he also can’t just leave Stevie who has been growing his enthusiasm.
And when Vince made a decision, of course it was the best choice he had thought deeply about. This decision is shown at the end of the film which is able to warm our hearts and shed a few tears of emotion.
There is a remark that catches attention when Stevie says that a third chance will not come twice. What does it mean? After we examine more deeply, Stevie’s words have a point. Vince missed his first chance when his sister died and he couldn’t be with her because he was having a concert in America.
While the second opportunity is the presence of Stevie in his life. And by not including Stevie in his performance at the Austin concert, that second chance was closed.
But Stevie implicitly states not to miss the third chance which means to be his friend again. And this opportunity was not missed again by Vince.
Implicitly, the end of the film states that Vince prefers to make music with Stevie and cancels his contract with Austin’s manager. Vince and Stevie’s friendship is the core of the story whose script was written by Eddie Sternberg and Zak Klein.
Even though it has a cliché premise, this simple story can be processed into a heartfelt story. Everything seems natural and runs as it is. Unfortunately, the script still leaves several holes in the story unanswered. One of them is what Vince has been doing for 20 years.
Then, when Vince managed to touch the heart of a church band member to sing, he was offered a job as a teacher in the group. This seems unrealistic. It’s too easy for him to take on big responsibilities.
The two main characters are well managed, but not with Amber. She seems fickle in her attitude towards Vince. Momentarily forbids Vince from ever seeing Stevie again, but then goes soft on the slightest excuse.
And there is still one more hanging, namely the reason Austin withdrew from the world of music that he has been involved with all this time. He did not explain at all why he wanted to end his music career.
I Used to Be Famous is Eddie Sternberg’s directorial debut. Previously, he only made two short films, one of which was an early version of this Netflix film. He is good at directing his players, so we can get lost in Vince’s feelings, played beautifully by Ed Skrein.
And what’s unique is that debut actor Leo Long, who plays Stevie, is indeed a young musician with autism. So that the real impression is so visible in every scene where the illness comes suddenly.
For this film, all the drum parts in every song were played by him. Of course we expect a brilliant career for him, both in music and film.
Apart from Leo Long, all members of the church music group are also played by people with neurodiversity which makes this film have high authentic value. And their appearance brings its own color to this film.
Above a few holes in the story, I Used to Be Famous comes full of warmth. There are many heart-touching moments in this film, especially the scene at the end of the film that can bring tears.
With the actor’s slick acting performance and careful direction from the director, this film presents an entertaining vibe with light comedy injections that are not excessive.
The accompaniment of new wave music in it can unravel our feelings of anxiety and calm us down, even though the type of music that is performed tends to be similar to Coldplay.