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Talent (1979)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Amateur singer Julie meets her friend Maureen outside Bunters nightclub, where she is scheduled to make her stage debut in the club's talent contest. Arriving in the squalid dressing room, Julie chatters nervously, swigs Babysham from the bottle and smokes cigarette and after cigarette while she begins to apply her make-up. Maureen offers her slightly bored reassurance. Julie frets about her voice. Maureen sings about her lonely, familiar life.

Julie worries about her dress, and wonders whether she should put on extra make-up. Maureen is surprised when she realises that Julie and her boyfriend, Dave, are having sex. Julie runs through the lyrics of her song, 'Cabaret'; Maureen points out several mistakes. They discuss Julie's likely marriage to Dave; Julie isn't very enthusiastic. Julie sings 'I Wanna Be 14 Again'.

The pair are joined in the dressing room by elderly magician George and his friend Arthur. They regale the young women with equally elderly jokes and sing 'Pals', to the embarrassed amusement of Julie and Maureen. While Julie goes to find the loo, the organist enters asking for her music. Julie reappears and recognises him as Mel, her first boyfriend, who she hasn't seen for eight years.

While Julie calls Dave from a corridor callbox, Mel passes. As they talk, Maureen sings about their romance while Julie was still at school. Julie asks Mel why he disappeared when she fell pregnant; he is surprised, though unflustered, to learn that she didn't have an abortion. He reveals that he is now married to singer Cathy Christmas, the headline act, and brags that she's on her way up.

Back in her dressing room, the increasingly nervous Julie is visited by the smooth-talking compere, who tries to calm her down, quizzes her on her life and hobbies under the pretext of giving her a good introduction. While leading her to another room to rehearse her song, he backs her against a wall, telling she has no hope in the talent contest and little prospect of a singing career - but promises that he could get her on TV if she hooks up with him. With his wife around tonight, he suggests she meet him tomorrow, and leaves her outside the rehearsal room.

Julie watches Cathy Christmas over-performing her song, then meekly enters the room, where Mel is waiting. He greets her coolly, and makes jokes at her expense as she prepares to sing. Meanwhile, the compere chats up a bemused Maureen, groping her breasts. He leaves, offering her twenty minutes in his car.

Julie returns, tense and fed up. She is thoroughly disenchanted with the whole experience, and vows not to perform. Gathering up her stuff, she leads Maureen out of the dressing room and the two of them sneak past the lurking compere and quietly make their way out. Relieved at the escape, the two friends enjoy a night on the town.