Let me start off by saying I think Clint Eastwood is one of the greatest directors working today. He has an almost magical ability to capture the heart of a story, to let the audience connect with the human element. That makes it all the more difficult to understand what went wrong here. In this fascinating story of the tempestuous career of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, the main thing missing is heart.
The story begins in a small New Jersey suburb of Belleville, where a young Frankie (John Lloyd Young) works in a barber shop and caters to the local mobster, Gyp DiCarlo (Christopher Walken). Everyone seems to know that Frankie has the voice of an angel—albeit a slightly whiny, high-pitched angel—and pretty soon, he’s singing with his best friend, Tommy (Vincent Piazza), in a local group. While eventually Frankie and The Four Seasons hit it big, mobsters and loan sharks and promoters constantly are taking advantage, and Frankie’s loyalties and friendships are perpetually challenged. Meanwhile, he pays the price for his sacrifices in his unstable personal life.
I can’t tell you how disappointing this film is. The music is great and there are even a few goose-bump moments when Frankie teams up with his writing partner and they try out a new hit. Nevertheless, when the music isn’t playing, the film is nothing more than a cursory timeline of the group. None of the stories—Frankie’s strained friendships, his volatile marriage, his troubled daughter, the dubious Gyp—resonate, making it difficult, if not impossible, to invest in the story. It doesn’t help that Mr. Young plays Frankie with the range of a dial tone. His wooden, hollow portrayal of Frankie Valli only cements our indifference. It’s a 5.