Recommended Film – Hunky Dory

A teacher gathers together a group of troubled teens and encourages them to express themselves through a school musical.

No, this isn’t another episode of the American TV series Glee but Hunky Dory, a heart-warming and sweet independent British film set in the Welsh city of Swansea in the scorching hot summer of 1976.

It stars London-born actress Minnie Driver (who has a host of top American TV and film credits to her name) as Viv, a product of the flower power generation, who decides to get her pupils interested in Shakespeare by staging The Tempest as a glam-rock opera utilising the music of the likes of Bowie, ELO and Pink Floyd.

Driver is the only big name in what is obviously a low-budget operation but there are stunning performances by some young talent obviously set for bigger things, especially smouldering hunk Aneurin Barnard as Davey and Catherine Zeta-Jones lookalike Danielle Branch as Stella, who are cast as the young lovers in The Tempest.

As well as trying to get to grips with Shakespeare, some of the students have their personal issues to confront. Evan (a superbly understated performance by Tom Harries) is confused by his sexuality and although not on the screen for much of the time, Darren Evans is compelling as the unwilling skinhead Kenny.

Yes, there is the odd twee moment but Hunky Dory never succumbs to full-blown American over-sentimentality.  And whilst it may not be the best film around at the moment it is streets ahead of the current crop of so called Hollywood blockbusters when it comes to integrity and storytelling.


I am a director of the Learn English Network. A non-profit organisation registered in the UK dedicated to helping people learning English and people who teach English online.

Learn English 2020