Following a once famous popstar’s attempt at rebuilding his name, I Used To Be Famous is a music drama with a predictable plot that is easily overlooked by its heartwarming sentiment. Starring Ed Skrein, Leo Long, and Eleanor Matsuura, the movie shines because of its honest look at the emotions and growth behind these characters. While the execution was not the greatest, the movie is still very moving and speaks directly to the heart. Although its currently the third trending movie on Netflix Canada, I haven’t really heard much about it otherwise. It’s a pretty good movie overall, so I’m excited to share this “hidden gem” with you.

Stevie and Vince working on music together

Vince, once known as Stereo Dream’s lead singer Vinnie D, starts off in this movie as a much older, desperate artist facing the hard reality that comes with being an aspiring singer. Low on money (and hope), luck brings him together with a young, but extremely talented, autistic drummer named Stevie who brings him inspiration and remotivates him. It was interesting getting to see the effects of someone going from famous to forgotten which really speaks to how quickly the media can determine someone’s relevancy. But the real highlight of the film was seeing Vince and Stevie’s unlikely blossoming friendship. It’s what’s at the heart of this film and it’s what makes it feel so endearing to watch.

Skrein did a great job as the lead in I Used To Be Famous and he brought a real wholesomeness to the character. It was also essential that his character was relatable and genuine, and I think Skrein did pretty well with that. Despite having experienced popularity and fame, Vince comes off as an everyday kind of guy with a dedication to music that is admirable – he’s certainly a likable character so I found myself rooting for his success. I liked that he wasn’t snobby or rude and that he was instead very down-to-earth and considerate. While he does at some points struggle with selfish gain, it was an honest and realistic struggle that felt understandable. 

Stevie and Vince at the ending after playing music together

Although Vince was a good protagonist, the star of the show for me was undoubtedly Stevie. He has such a kind soul and a lively disposition that made his character so easy to love and cheer for. On top of that, it was truly incredible watching him play the drums and his passion for it was clear as day. What I sincerely appreciated about this movie was that they casted Leo Long, who is an autistic performer, in this role. I loved how careful and respectful the movie was in its depiction of autism and how it was never portrayed as Stevie’s defining trait, it was just simply part of who he was. There was never a moment where I felt they were being condescending or stereotypical, so that was definitely a huge plus for this film.

I especially liked that Stevie had as much development as Vince did. Behind all the cool drumming and sweet tunes, the movie is really about pursuing dreams and personal growth. While Vince comes to learn that music and fame are two separate entities, Stevie learns that he needs to step outside of his shell to achieve his dream of attending a prestigious music school. There’s a real beauty to this movie feeling so realistic, and I loved seeing all the downsides and upsides in each character’s development.

Stevie and his mom, Amber listening to Vince play them music

While I Used To Be Famous definitely has its pros, there unfortunately are some cons, with the first being that the plot is pretty predictable. This doesn’t bother me too much though because the end result is still heartfelt and warm, so I can overlook the fact that the story isn’t all that new. The issue I had the most problem with though was the film’s inability to fully explore ideas and outcomes. It felt like there was a lot that was left unexplored and some resolutions were a bit too ambiguous for me to determine what actually happened. Does Vince accept the job as a musical therapist? Did he reject the music label’s offer? Why did Stereo Dream disband and what exactly was the reason for their falling out? These were just some of the questions that I wanted a better answer to. I wish there was maybe ten more minutes of the movie so they could answer some of these questions.

And in all honesty, I didn’t find the music in the movie to be that great either. Aside from Stevie’s fantastic drum solos, Skrein’s rough sounding voice seemed kind of uninspired. At times, it came off as a bit lazy and unenthusiastic. While it’s definitely not the most important aspect of the film, it would’ve been nice to hear more effort on Skrein’s part. This is probably personal preference, but I think it would’ve made his role as a passionate, talented artist more believable.

Though it’s not without its flaws, I Used To Be Famous is a pleasant watch that simply feels good. While I wish the conclusion was wrapped up more nicely, I can’t deny that the Stevie and Vince reunion was a satisfying one. It’s definitely one of Netflix’s better films and I hope I’ve introduced you to a new potential watch. For all it’s touching warmth, I’m going to give I Used To Be Famous a 7.5/10. It definitely lost some points for its poor execution in some areas, but I don’t regret giving this one a watch. It does the job as a feel good movie and I’m sure you’ll be smiling by the end of the film.