MOVIE REVIEWS

Spike Island

ADD TO MY FAVORITES
7/10 NR

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By John Chard January 30, 2017

Does Mat Whitecross' film Bang the Drum?

It's May 1990, Great Britain, and The Stone Roses are about to play a monumental outdoor gig at Spike Island in Widnes, Cheshire. A bunch of teenage acolytes of the band, aspiring musicians themselves, embark on a journey to Spike Island whist at the same time embarking on personal journeys of the real life kind.

Us Brits do like ourselves a coming of age drama set to the backdrop of musical importance. Mat Whitecross (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll) taps into the era of Baggy Manchester, of a Northern Britain dominated by pills, thrills and romantic bellyaches. To many of a certain age The Stone Roses were "their" Beatles, a power pop foursome that rocked it big time, their influence on the British music industry is still being felt today. This in spite of their relatively short life span. Re: The Sex Pistols at Winterland, see The Stone Roses at Spike Island (in other words it was a pretty awful gig all told).

However, the band are secondary to the teen angst narrative threads, to the scallywag japes and sexual growing pains. As Messrs Ian Brown and John Squire weave their chordal magic in the background, a bunch of spotty Herbert's with mad mac haircuts and iffy accents try and make sense of it all, of life, death, loves and hates. Music binds them together, but does anything else?

It's all very formulaic stuff, but for those of the time, or for those with a love for how music can define your life, or at the least shape its direction, then this hits the requisite chords. It's funny at times and the cast are ebullient enough to carry the clichéd and thin material home, but come the finale you will be remembering the soundtrack more than the story itself. 6.5/10

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