9th April - Good Vibrations
With reviews piling on top of me, I figured I better get my finger out and review something that I saw AGES ago. I can understand why I’m reluctant to review Good vibrations. I took my mum to see it in the cinema, because my dad’s such a recluse she doesn’t really get to go out on the town much, so it was a big event for her. We had drinks at the pub beforehand, dolled up and afterward she drove around Belfast and showed me all the old haunts. It was a great night. But the movie was a little too formulaic, saccharine and dumbed down for me.
Good Vibrations follows the story of Terri Hooley so called Godfather of Belfast Punk, a self-proclaimed hippie, Hooley opened up a record shop in Belfast at the height of the troubles thinking that music could bring the people, whether catholic or protestant, together like it used to before the first shots were fired. Hooley becomes enchanted by the underground punk scene in Belfast and supports bands like Rudi, The Outcasts and The Undertones to gig all over Northern Ireland, to independently produce and sell their records at his expense. Hooley struggles between his commitment to music and his young wife whilst dodging attacks from the IRA, the UDA and even the police (“If I see as much as two rolling papers in the same room, I’m going to do you for possession!”) The film basically charts the record shop’s rise and fall debating whether Hooley’s optimistic or rather idealistic idea that music could stop the troubles actually worked.
It’s as the critics say, it’s a feel good movie with some cracker tunes. But honestly for a film about one of Belfast’s most beloved eccentrics (who before I say anything more was acted or rather mimicked to perfection Richard Dormer) Good Vibrations was so predictable. Honestly its meant to be a love-letter to Belfast troubles-era punks who didn’t care if you were catholic or protestant so long as you could pogo. But in saying that, it comes off a little too sweet. The film ultimately loses its punk edge feeling saccharine In particular a scene where armed soldiers ransack Hooley’s ‘tour bus’ with Rudi and The Outcasts in suspicion that they are IRA or UDA terrorists. The soldier asks where they’re from each person answers with a different side of Belfast (connoting that they’re protestant and catholics travelling together) and the soldier admiringly lets them continue onward. It scenes like that, that just come off a bit naff. I seriously doubt a British soldier would be moved by protestants and catholics in a van together if anything it’d probably make them look MORE suspicious and Hooley and co. would have spent hours and gunpoint explaining themselves. Just for me, I felt that scene was a cop-out a way of making soldiers who were known for being irrationally violent and suspicious look blameless. But maybe I’m overreacting? Or maybe Good Vibrations goes out of its way to not insult or offend anyone which is why it comes off childishly sweet.
But in saying all that, the story of Terri Hooley’s Good Vibrations has to be seen to be believed. It’s a must-see for punk enthusiasts!
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