MIFF 2013: Good Vibrations

5 Aug
By Cam Grace
Is life really as formulaic as biopics make it look? The plot trajectory of Good Vibrations is so clichéd and predictable that you could chart it with a ruler and a set square. The film is a genial and generous enough account of the life of Belfast music impresario Tom Hooley (Richard Donner) best known as the man who discovered The Undertones and other rough gems as the sectarian troubles of Northern Ireland raged around him during the late seventies.
Donner injects his role with a manic charisma that is at times charming and engaging. He unwittingly becomes a figurehead for the emergence of punk and an alternative Ulster. You’re never quite sure if he’s a genius or genuinely insane – “When it comes to punk, New York has the haircuts, London has the trousers, but Belfast has the reason!”.
Being a film about music, you’d expect it to sound good. It does. While offerings by David Bowie and The Stiff Little Fingers provide the film with a cuircuit busting energy, the movie dovetails in its second act into a low rent 24 Hour Party People. By the film’s closure, I found myself reticent to celebrate Hooley’s ‘triumphant victory’ – a standingly ovated benefit concert – a tribute to a man who had been celebrated into fantasy.

Cam Grace wrote this review. The rest is a beautiful mystery involving a degree of laziness when it comes to bylines.

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