The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Spike Island | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review - Spike Island

A group of Mancunian youths travel to an early nineties Stone Roses concert.

Directed by: Mat Whitecross
Starring: Elliott Tittensor, Nico Mirallegro, Jordan Murphy, Emilia Clarke


In 1990, Tits (Tittensor) is a young man living in a working class area of Manchester known as "The Red Bricks". He spends his days drifting idly through school while his evenings alternate between visiting his dying father in hospital and practicing with his band. Along with his gang of mates, Tits is obsessed with The Stone Roses, a band who, for a very short time, were a huge phenomenon in the UK. The band are due to play what is being billed as "their ultimate gig", an outdoor concert held at the title location. Tits and his mates are desperate to attend, hoping to pass their demo tape to the band, but tickets are impossible to come by and fate seems to be conspiring against the lads.
Should you decide to count the number of great films made on the subject of music, you'll likely end up with a few free fingers. The exceptions, Robert Altman's 'Nashville', Milos Forman's 'Amadeus', Hal Ashby's 'Bound For Glory', concern themselves with the musicians, rather than the music itself. The closest a film-maker has come to expressing the swell of emotion one feels when exposed to great music, outside of classic Hollywood musicals, is Bertrand Tavernier's 'Round Midnight'. Tavernier never allows his protagonist, played by Francois Cluzet, to tell us through dialogue why he's obsessed with Dexter Gordon's jazzman, instead it's written all over his face. The creators of 'Spike Island' employ no such nuance. Their protagonists constantly scream and shout their love of The Stone Roses, but they never quite convince us.
If you're not a fan of the band in question, (personally I find their cult status baffling), Whitecross' film contains little to hold your attention. It's a soap opera affair, with each of the young protagonists struggling with their own cliched subplots. The father who wants his son to take over the family business against his will, the young man who can't express his feelings for the girl of his dreams, the teen stuck with an abusive father. For the most part, the cast, Clarke in particular, fail to sell themselves as working class Mancunians and the result is a film that feels like one of those "Yoof" dramas UK TV channels love to pump out, crossed with an episode of 'The Monkees'.
4/10


Eric Hillis