Despite certain changes - it is updated from the early '70s to the late '80s, for instance - Martin Amis' clever, shallow first novel, the tale of teenager Charles Highway, eager to sleep with an older woman before he is 20, is rendered with some fidelity. The book's first person narrative finds a clumsy correlative in the brat's direct to camera confessions; and the humour is as smug, adolescent and misogynist as it was in the novel. The flaws lie less in the performances (Fletcher's Highway and Skye's Rachel, primary object of his self-serving affections, are both insubstantial, overshadowed by Pryce's crowd-pleasing cameo as Highway's irreverent hippy brother-in-law) than in the direction. Working from his own script, Harris shows no sense of detail; characters barely develop, London becomes a topographical mess, and each time the plot falters, we get long '60s-style interludes with no dialogue, cut to bland pop. The result is without dramatic or moral weight, despite Highway's contrived comeuppance, and it's impossible to care about the characters.
Cast and crew
Shirley Anne Field