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54

SYNOPSIS:
Shane O'Shea (Ryan Phillippe) is 19 and bored by the local nightlife in New Jersey. He ends up standing outside Studio 54, trying to get in. The club's owner, Steve Rubell (Mike Myers), is taken by the young man's good looks and waves him through. Soon Shane joins the ranks of bare-chested busboys working under the strobe lights. He makes friends with a coworker, Greg (Brecklin Meyer), who is married to a coat-check girl and would-be singer, Anita (Salma Hayek). Meanwhile, Shane's favouritism by Rubell and a prominent socialite (Sela Ward) puts him on the fast track. It's not long before he is promoted from busboy to bartender, and gets all the women and drugs he wants. He has set his sights on a soap opera actress, Julie Black (Neve Campbell), whom he has long admired from afar.

"It's no surprise that this mostly fascinating drama received such mixed reviews. As a recently history lesson, it's more fantasy than history, an idealised interpretation of an era that was excessively self-indulgent, even downright silly. 54 is an intoxicating look at a few years of utter garishness. Though the film has certain annoyances and silly plot contrivances, it remains a surprising entertaining and biting funny look at the period, and the club that personified all that was wrong with the late seventies and early eighties. Writer/director Mark Christopher has a far better visual eye than he does a sense of character, and cinematically, 54 is stunning. As well as his attention to period detail, his scenes in the club are intoxicating, as they so deftly define the garishness of that whole scene. His sense of character is less interesting, offering a sketchy account of these strangely idiosyncratic people, and the central character, Shane, is very thin on the ground, played with bland indifference by newcomer Ryan Phillippe. On the acting front, real honours go first to Mike Myers, who gives a superb, indomitable and complex performance as the often drugged-out Steve Rubell, while Salma Hayek is both breathtaking to watch and emotionally resonant as aspiring singer Anita (and she does her own singing which is great). Though short on historical accuracy and well-defined character, 54 is an entertaining reminder of how facile the disco era really was, and what clubs such as 54, really represented."
Paul Fischer

"It's not hard to understand why filmmakers should have an interest in the 1970's. The glitter, the absolute excess, the high camp, and the fact it ended so abruptly make it an ideal vehicle for stories. Set in one of THE icons of the '70's, 54 seeks to capture the essence of those times. It has some good things going for it - dazzling camera work, outstanding costumes and one brilliant performance. But it has three big things going against it. They're called Saturday Night Fever, Boogie Nights and The Last Days of Disco. The script takes the themes of the first two films and basically welds them onto the plotline of the third. The result isn't as good as any of them; and 54 ends up being a film with very little new to say. It is redeemed to an extent by the wonderful work of Mike Meyers in the central role; but he tends to accentuate the shortcomings of some of the other players. Ryan Phillippe is convincing at first as the ingenuous youth from Jersey looking to make it big in 'the city'; but he never loses that quality, even though it's clearly called for in the script. Salma Hayek, Neve Campbell and Breckin Meyer try hard, but in the end, they're essentially window dressing. 54 isn't original or even very insightful; but it's wonderful to look at, and is worth seeing if only for the performance of Meyers."
David Edwards

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1
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SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

54 (M)
(US)

CAST: Ryan Phillippe, Salma Hayek, Brecklin Meyer, Mike Myers, Neve Campbell,

Sela Ward, Heather Matarazzo, Ellen Albertini Dow

DIRECTOR: Mark Christopher

PRODUCER: Ira Deutchman, Richard Gladstein, Dolly Hall

SCRIPT: Mark Christopher

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Alexander Gruszinsky

EDITOR: Lee Percy

MUSIC: Marco Beltrami

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kevin Thompson

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 12, 1998

VIDEO RELEASE: October 11, 1999
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment

RRP: $24.95







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