Netflix has been working on a UK slate for the past year, including Man vs. Bee on the TV side and I came by on the movie page. While the latter felt like a very Netflix movie, a much talked about thriller, I used to be famous might seem like an atypical choice for a Netflix original.
The story of a former boy band member who finds an unexpected friendship with an autistic drummer may seem too low-key to make an impact on the streaming service. There’s just so much new “content” (to use a terrible phrase) weekly on Netflix that it’s inevitable that some movies fall by the wayside.
You should make an effort to seek out I used to be famous although it is an uplifting and loving watch. It’s a film that marks its final destination, but it’s made with such heart that you’ll be crying happy tears by the end.
After opening for Vince (Ed Skrein) during his boy band days as Vinnie D in Stereo Dream, I used to be famous jump forward two decades and Vince can’t even get a gig in local pubs in Peckham.
While frolicking on a bench, he meets Stevie (impressive newcomer Leo Long) who immediately strikes up a rhythm with Vince. One viral video later, and Vince feels his second chance at music stardom has arrived, provided he can persuade Stevie’s mother Amber (Eleanor Matsuura) to let her autistic son play a concert.
Vince flirts with making it big again, thanks to the help of former Stereo Dream band member Austin (Eoin Macken), but what might surprise you is that the film isn’t really interested in that particular underdog story. Writer-director Eddie Sternberg is more interested in the human element of the story, and the film is stronger for it.
Adapting from his own short film of the same name, Sternberg based the character of Stevie on his cousin, who is autistic and a drummer. The personal connection is evident in how the filmmaker chose to cast a neurodivergent actor as Stevie, as well as having several neurodivergent actors in the film’s prominent drum circle scenes.
Vince’s journey is also tied to his brother’s death during his Stereo Dream fame, and seeking his own redemption for how he feels he failed his brother. If the film at times strays into over-sentimentality with its flashbacks, Skrein’s affecting performance prevents it from becoming too cheesy.
The music sequences are excellent and sell the idea that Vince can really make a comeback with Stevie. As well as the euphoric and tearful final performance, there is a powerful concert in the middle of the film showcasing the songs written by London Grammar’s Dan Rothman and Hannah Reid.
Like everything else in the film, the music sequences feel real and are delivered with heart. It may not be groundbreaking in its story, but no part of the film ever makes you believe that it was designed by algorithms, which can sometimes be the case with Netflix.
There is real heart in it I used to be famous and even the most stony among us will be moved. Netflix may offer exuberant outings to watch this weekend, but I used to be famous deserves to be in front of the stage.
I used to be famous is available to watch now on Netflix.