It's All Gone Pete Tong

It's All Gone Pete Tong


Reviewed by: Mimmo

To clear things up, it helps to know that Pete Tong is a British DJ - he appears as himself - and "It's all gone Pete Tong" is Cockney rhyming slang for "it's all gone wrong." Michael Dowse's film, on the other hand, charts the heady days, decline and comeback of DJ Frankie Wilde, an iconic figure on the Ibiza scene, and one of the great DJs, if you believe his admirers.

Starting with his period of greatest celebrity, we follow Frankie in his day-to-day life, as he snorts cocaine, makes love to groupies and his trophy wife Sonja and lives the life of an irreverent Brit abroad, while bringing out albums of his own for the smarmy producer who helped create his career. He's a bit of a jerk, as the film lets you understand, without scoring points on it, but he's not doing anyone any harm, except himself, by ingesting all those drugs, which seem to be delivered regularly with the milk.

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What changes everything is an ear infection that leaves him heading towards total deafness. At this point, wild Frankie has a mid-life crisis equal to his other extremes, but one that he hides from those around him. Booed off the DJ table, he is pressured by his producer to give up and go back to an empty home, his wife having packed and gone - in a wholly convincing moment, Sonja, talking to a husband who can't hear, says, "You just don't seem to care, do you?" Life is like that sometimes, but Frankie's interior world comes alive in a surreal turn when the coke badger (a humorous nod to Donnie Darko), the phantom of his addiction, appears to guzzle coke down his throat. Out of the loop as far as the rest of the planet is concerned, he arrives finally at the point where everything has gone Pete Tong shaped.

But this is a comedy drama and a comeback film, as Frankie learns to follow sound images on screens and sense rhythms by placing his feet on special boards. Learning to lip read and live with his disability, he bounces back in a way that reveals a strong and sympathetic character we might not have suspected, thanks to Paul Kaye's surprising performance, which totally avoids the life-affirming brand of American success and redemption tales. There's romance, too, and a mystery ending, since it seems that no one knows where Frankie might be, if he's still around.

It's hard to say yet whether this will appeal beyond the club scene, or a public that was waiting for a film tribute to Ibiza. Certainly the film takes a risk in not being obviously targeted to either audience.

It's All Gone Pete Tong mixes the biographical and the fantastic, comic drama and mockumentary. Some of the funniest lines come from the po-faced commentators, attempting to place the significance of Frankie's story ("Music has traditionally been the work of people who can hear..." and "Frankie was between a rock and another rock...").

The film has drawbacks. It doesn't show us the rise of the hero from anonymity and the adulation of DJs is kept up, despite the satire of the music industry. If you're not a clubber and don't know who Pete Tong or Frankie Wilde are, it's worth seeing for the Spinal-Tap references to the inner workings of the pop music industry and the unusual chords it delivers as the story unfolds.

Reviewed on: 01 May 2005
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It's All Gone Pete Tong packshot
The music industry meets biopic in mockumentary spoof of Ibiza DJ Frankie Wilde.
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Director: Michael Dowse

Writer: Michael Dowse

Starring: Paul Kaye, Beatriz Batarda, Kate Magowan, Dave Lawrence, Paul Spence

Year: 2004

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK/Canada


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