Entertainment: +2 1/2
Acceptability: -3 1/2

BACKBEAT tells the story of the "fifth Beatle," the painter Stuart Sutcliffe (Steven Dorff), who lost his way and his life in Hamburg, Germany. As the band first formed, the Beatles went to Hamburg to play to increasing popularity. The charismatic bass-player Stuart becomes enamored with the beautiful Astrid (Sheryl Lee), a sometimes photographer who leads a mysterious life on the dark side of Hamburg, a life filled with drugs and free-swinging friends. John Lennon (Ian Hart) is both attracted to and hates Astrid for taking his best friend away from him. Meanwhile, Stuart's drinking and drug abuse begin to mar his performances. Finally Stuart breaks with the band to live with and eventually marry Astrid. Not much later, however, drugs, lack of sleep and his wild living catch up with Stuart and he dies. Done in quasi-documentary style, BACKBEAT offers an early glimpse at the excesses and desperation that drove the Beatles to their ultimate success in America. An abundance of sex, drugs and violence make this movie better left unseen.

The movie's lurid tale of drugs and sex makes you understand why parents in the sixties condemned the new music and lifestyle of rock and roll musicians. There are many scenes of sexual intercourse, sometimes with two or three couples in the same room. There is explicit breast and full female frontal nudity shown, both in the strip joint the Beatles first performed at and in other scenes of intercourse. Drug abuse is common as the band members, especially Stuart, take speed to keep playing or just to have fun. A few violent scenes include John and Stuart in a bar fight with kicks to the stomach and head, and Stuart jealously beating up a rival in another. Foul language is thrown around constantly with many obscenities and suggestive comments concerning intercourse. Lennon gets seasick and his vomit is shown a couple of times. The only thing left to the imagination is how any of the Beatles survived this time. Needless to say, turn your back on BACKBEAT.

Preview Reviewer: Greg Wilson
Distributor: Gramercy Pictures, 9247 Alden Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Crude Language: Several (7) times - Mild 2, Moderate 5,
Obscene Language: Many (68) times (f-word 49, s-word 8, others 11)
Profanity: Regular once
Violence: Several times - moderate (two fights with punching and kicking in the face and stomach)
Sexual Intercourse: Several (three couples in the same room, in shower, few other times)
Nudity: Many times - full frontal female nudity and breast nudity
Homosexual Conduct: Male-kissing once
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Many times - references to intercourse
Drug Abuse: Several times - alcohol drinking and amphetamines
Other: Destructive lifestyle glorified through movie
Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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