The BBFC certification for this fond look back at the swinging ’60s, presided over with trademark charm by Michael Caine, notes that it features ‘drug misuse and nudity’. In truth, you could take one look at a list of interviewees that includes David Bailey, Roger Daltrey, Paul McCartney, Twiggy and Marianne Faithfull and figure that out for yourself. Sure enough, there’s plenty of both on offer as the narrating Caine revisits the decade that made him a star and chats to a few old mates about what it was like to be there. Those that can remember it, at least.
It could all be horribly cosy, but Caine is admirably keen to dig a bit deeper, presenting a city – and society – in flux, as young people fought for new freedoms and The Man tried to stop them. Sounds clichéd? Among all the pop art, miniskirts and Kinks tracks, there’s actually a pretty sharp-toothed assault here on a class system that was stacked against the cockney actor and his peers. If you imagine those cheesy London-in-the-’60s bits in ‘Austin Powers’, only with a bit more social history and slightly better teeth, you’re halfway there.
There’s some great stories, too. We learn how The Beatles and The Stones shared a dancefloor at Leicester Square’s improbably awesome-sounding Ad Lib Club, while Caine has enormous fun revisiting his own career, ‘Alfie’ and all. As a cinematic tour of a time and place, ‘My Generation’ is no match for, say, Terence Davies’s ‘Of Time and the City’ – the structure is a muddle – but Caine makes a heck of a fun guide.