It was nominated for two Golden Globes in 1999.
The band Strange Fruit performs at the 1977 Wisbech Rock Festival. Hughie Case tells how, due to the pursuit of "fame, fortune and fornication" – and the drug overdose of their original singer, Keith Lovell – this is their last performance. After various issues, the band prematurely ends their performance, frustrated over competing egos and various members' lack of self-control.
Twenty years later, a stranger who turns out to be the son of the founder of The Wisbech Rock Festival recognises keyboardist Tony Costello and convinces him to reunite the band for a special anniversary of the event. Tony quickly tracks down Karen Knowles, the band's original runaround-girl. Initially reluctant, she is inspired to return to the band after finding memorabilia. She insists on being the band's manager, and Tony agrees. Gradually, Karen and Tony track down the original members: bassist Les Wickes, who has a family and works as a roofer; drummer David "Beano" Baggot, who is working at a nursery and is on the run from the Inland Revenue; and lead singer Ray Simms, who, after years of drug and alcohol abuse, is now completely sober. Though he claims to be working on a solo album, Simms has not released anything in almost ten years.
The band meets up at the Red Lion pub to discuss the reunion. Everyone expects Brian Lovell, the band's lead guitarist, to be there. Karen says she was unable to find him but learned he donated away all his royalties to charity; everyone assumes he is dead. Their roadie, Hughie, turns up during their first rehearsal to resume his original role. Ray insists on playing guitar but is convinced to concentrate on singing. They find a replacement for Brian in young Luke Shand, a talented guitarist who remains blissfully unaware of the band's internal tensions.
Following a warm up tour of Europe, Karen negotiates for the rights to their back catalogue. Their initial performances are poorly received. Les, Beano, and Hughie hold little hope for the band, believing Keith and Brian the main talent. Tony makes advances on Karen, but she resists due to her attachment to Brian. At one of their gigs, Ray's over-the-top ideas backfire, and Les and Ray walk off the stage. Following a confrontation with Les, Ray has a nervous breakdown, exacerbated by turning 50. Ray leaves the gig, buys drugs, and falls into a canal. Karen's daughter rescues him, and Ray's wife blames Karen for his troubles. Following an angry reaction from the townspeople over the volume levels, the band escape to their bus and flee the town.
Les and Ray make up, and Ray says he "received a positive message" from Brian's ghost. The bus breaks down, and Karen confronts the band about their lack of confidence. When the band meet a girl wearing a Strange Fruit tour T-shirt that belonged to her father, they take it as another positive omen. The next few shows go without incident and are well-received; the band becomes slightly more optimistic. Following a record deal, the band records a new song written and sung by Les, which Ray had never previously allowed. However, after watching a previously-taped drunken TV interview in which Les and Beano imply that the band was much better with Keith and Brian, Ray breaks down again and quits.
As the band members return to their former lives, Karen and Claire visit Keith's grave to pay their respects. They find a note that quotes "The Flame Still Burns", a tribute to Keith written by Brian. Hughie is then confronted by Karen, and reluctantly admits he knows Brian is alive. Karen and Tony find Brian in a psychiatric hospital. He explains he gave up his material possessions to sever himself from his previous life. When he agrees to rejoin the band, the others follow. However, at a pre-show press conference, hostile questions cause Brian to walk out. Everyone but Luke follows, and Luke chastises the journalists. Visibly shaken, Brian decides to back out of the show but gives his blessing.
Beano nearly misses the set when a stalker-groupie demands sex. The band starts their set with the same song with which they opened up the last Wisbech Festival. Though Ray's confidence is shaken, Tony saves him by playing "The Flame Still Burns". Brian is pleased to hear the band playing the song, which helps him finally overcome his demons and joins the band onstage to play an inspiring guitar solo, much to the surprise and delight of everyone.Bill Nighy as Ray Simms
Juliet Aubrey as Karen Knowles
Billy Connolly as Hughie Case
Stephen Rea as Tony Costello
Jimmy Nail as Les Wickes
Timothy Spall as David "Beano" Baggot
Hans Matheson as Luke Shand
Bruce Robinson as Brian Lovell
Lee Williams as young Keith Lovell
Rachael Stirling as Clare Knowles
Helena Bergström as Astrid Simms
Alphonsia Emmanuel as Camille
Phil Daniels as Neil Gaydon
Zoë Ball as Herself
Frances Barber as Lady in Black
Rupert Penry-Jones as young Ray
Virginia Clay as young Karen
Luke Garrett as young Hughie
Gavin Kennedy as young Tony
Alex Palmer as young Les
Sean McKenzie as young "Beano"
Matthew Finney as young Brian
The film has garnered a positive rating of 73% on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 26 reviews, with an average score of 6.6/10.
The songs that the band Strange Fruit are known to perform in the film are:"The Flame Still Burns"
"All Over the World"
"Bird on a Wire"
"What Might Have Been"
Also, "Stealin'" is performed by Billy Connolly's character.