Page 45 Review by Stephen
What is it that you want..?
Well, I suppose I want what everyone else wants
Peace, love, and belonging
that perhaps its belonging thats most elusive.
On the surface this is pure effervescent swinging sixties fun with a dapper yet cheeky biopic feel, portraying the charismatic guiding hand behind the Beatles rise to stardom. But when the cheers die down, the after party is over, the champagne bubbles have gone flat, what can you do if what you really feel is completely and utterly alone? Brian Epstein made making the Beatles his lifes work and tragically it probably greatly curtailed his, with his untimely death at the age of 32. As the Beatles themselves began to indulge in less legal pharmacological pursuits, Epstein became first addicted to amphetamines, and then sleeping tablets to try and help with his acute insomnia. Ultimately, it was an overdose of barbiturates which caused his premature passing.
Its inevitable that any work like this will be only a potted history of events, even in a career as short as Epsteins, but it features all the notable highs and lows, and of course bizarre anecdotes you would expect. Epstein had his personal demons, primarily due to having to hide his sexuality at a time when despite the Sixties sexual revolution, male homosexuality was still illegal in England and Wales, ironically enough only being decriminalised about a month after his passing. And whilst this work doesnt shy away from looking at the deep sadness Epstein clearly felt about being unable to openly look for romantic love, which he clearly felt could be the one thing that might save him from his workaholic and destructive tendencies, there is also much fun and frivolity about the magical journey he and the Beatles were on. The absolute highlight for me though is his lunch meeting with Colonel Parker, manager of Elvis and a man with a notorious appetite for money
You take fifty percent of everything Elvis earns?!
No. Elvis takes fifty percent of everything I earn.
As Parker launches into tirade after tirade about Jews in the entertainment industry then just for dessert indulging some casual homophobia, Epstein begins to see the Colonel almost metamorphosising into some devilish version of Mammon in front of his very eyes. Its a timely reminder that whilst Epstein himself was on a staggering 25% gross (not including expenses) of The Beatles income, he never had anything but their own best interests at heart. Indeed, just three years after Epsteins death in August 1967 and with the breakup of Beatles then complete, John Lennon noted in a Rolling Stone interview that upon hearing of Epsteins death: I knew that we were in trouble then
I thought, Weve fuckin had it now'.
The beautiful artwork, from Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker, elegantly captures the wild rollercoaster ride that was Epsteins life from the moment he laid eyes on the proto Fab Four in the Cavern to the moment he was finally laid to rest, complementing Vivek J. Tiwarys excellent script.