Spike Island
dir Mat Whitecross
scr Chris Coghill
prd Esther Douglas, Fiona Neilson
with Elliott Tittensor, Nico Mirallegro, Jordan Murphy, Adam Long, Oliver Heald, Emilia Clarke, Lesley Manville, Steve Evets, Chris Coghill, Matthew McNulty, Antonia Thomas, Rob James-Collier
release UK 21.Jun.13
12/UK 1h45
Spike Island
Superfans: Long, Murphy and Tittensor

clarke manville evets
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Spike Island Beautifully shot and acted, this film traces an iconic event in musical history in a way that should be entertaining and involving. But the filmmakers botch the story with a fragmented script and harshly edited scenes that prevent us from properly engaging with anything that happens.

In 1990, Gary (Tittensor), better known as "Tits", is in a garage band with his pals Dodge, Zippy, Gaz and Penfold (Mirallegro, Murphy, Long and Heald). They're looking forward to a landmark concert by the Stone Roses on Spike Island in Widnes, even though they haven't yet managed to get tickets. Yet. Meanwhile, Gary's working up the courage to approach his long-time crush Sally (Clarke). But his dad (Evets) is ill, and his mother (Manville) isn't happy that he's so preoccupied. Especially since his big brother Ste (McNulty) refuses to come round.

The story of these six guys attempting to break into the concert is engaging enough to catch our interest, so it's frustrating that the film is so distracted by melodramatic sideplots that steal focus from them. Aside from Gary, we never remotely get to know any of his pals. He and Dodge have been buddies since childhood and are at a crossroads in their friendship, but even this is so under-developed that we feel the bond without ever understanding it.

This approach makes all of the subplots feel irrelevant. The emotions of Gary's dying father obliterate any sense of why Spike Island was such a pivotal event for all of them. And this maudlin turn of events, along with some teen-soap flare-ups, leave the under-developed romance between Gary and Sally feeling corny. This certainly isn't the fault of the young actors, who infuse the film with boyish energy and a sense of anarchic joy surrounding this controversial concert next to a nuclear power plant.

At least it looks great and has plenty of witty energy. It's also impeccably designed visually, with a realistic, clever re-creation of the period, which provides lots of great music, including some terrific sing-along sequences. But the jarring editing and overlapping, dialect-heavy banter makes it difficult to keep up. So in the end, we're left with a film that feels warm and sweetly nostalgic, but not very satisfying.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, drugs 20.May.13

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