From the pirouetting 50s poodle skirts to the tinny rock'n'roll standards of Flick's opening scenes, you get the feeling you're about to be force fed a weighty slap of sepia-tinged nostalgia. That it could all end up a little bit Life on Mars. Nothing however, could be further from the truth.
Flick is a high-concept, surrealist and perfectly realised film bridging the gap between gritty kitchen sink realism and stylised zombie B-movie technicolour – a gap I hadn't realised needed bridging until I'd seen the film. Teddyboy Johnny Taylor is a shy and stuttering misfit – the sort of socially awkward oddball that doesn't mean any harm... right? Well, until he sees the object of his affection Sal, getting more than a little intimate with some other guy on the dancefloor of his local disco, a disco he'd spruced himself up for with the sole intention of finally summoning the courage to ask Sal to dance at no less. After getting a little stab happy with what seems like most of the disco's male contingency, Johnny scrapes up a visibly disturbed Sal from the floor and whisks her away in his car. The journey ends in tragedy as we apparently see the end of Johnny - or do we? Back to the present day, Faye Dunaway's one-armed American cop partnered with local police man Mark Benton are draughted in to solve the case of a rockabilly serial killer. No prizes for guessing who that is.
The plot is at times, a little heavy-handed though in a film this stylised, is almost secondary to its overall aesthetic and note perfect acting. Fay Dunawaye is wonderful as the wide-eyed and woozy Detective McKenzie – a beautifully over-the-top performance eschewing parody and perfectly in keeping with Flick's essence. Liz Smith delivers a marvelously unhinged portrayal as Johnny Taylor's genuinely creepy mother. We're even treated to a Richard Hawley cameo, for heaven's sake. A series of flawlessly crafted one-liners ensure just the right smattering of humour and knowing.
Flick's unrelenting perfection and attention-to-detail does however, become a little cloying. Frame upon frame shot with such ridiculous panache gets a bit much and you find yourself almost yearning for a slight error of judgement – a wrongly dated costume or an inappropriately chosen song to pull it back down to earth. Filmed on a remarkably low budget in just under four weeks - Flick is small but perfectly, almost annoyingly, formed – and to entertain such a lapse of judgement is simply wishful thinking.