A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
I, I like the colourless clothes he wears, and the way the Belfast rain dampens his hair. We, hear the sounds of his gentle words, as the wind lifts his optimism through the air… “Good Vibrations”, the biopic based on the incredible career of Terry Hooley and his unmatchable determination is one that has remained relatively submerged for a couple of years following it’s initial European release in 2012/13. Only hitting our Australian screens now, midway through 2014, not much has been said about this heartwarming tale of one man’s desperation and fulfilment of a dream. It is however, according to Mark Kermode – film critic for The Observer – “Magic… my film of the year for 2013”.
Having taken Kermode’s statement on board and sadly possessing a somewhat biased level of expectation, two things were taken from watching “Good Vibrations”. The first thing was that Kermode has a point, but the film wash’t quite as compelling and immersive as others I’ve seen recently; the second thing is that watching this film could literally kill you, if you partook in a “Good Vibrations”-based drinking game that is. The game is simple, every time Terry Hooley smiles, take a shot… it won’t end well.
Set in the troublesome 1970’s and 80’s of Belfast, Ireland, “Good Vibrations” is based around the delightfully bright Terry Hooley (Richard Dormer), a man with passion, a dream and a glass eye. Based on the real life figure, Hooley’s story is centred around the rise of punk music during a dark period in recent Irish history. In amongst the chaos on the streets with riots, destruction and mayhem, Hooley, a music enthusiast, rebel and all-round good guy, decided to open a record shop in the most affected side of the city. ‘Good Vibrations’, a petite record shop is placed in amongst rubble and wreckage, initially failing to do any business whatsoever. A night out sees Terry discover something new, something never before seen, something radical and bold. This something was called Punk. Completely blown away by the experience of a punk gig, Terry’s excitement leads him to galvanise the rapidly emerging youths associated with the scene into recording, producing and distributing their music; Hooley says to his dormant wife at 4am following the gig, “The whole world has to hear them!”.
The story is factually based, but not having a full understanding of the events that transpired, it’s hard to comment on the film’s representation in terms of accuracy. Having said that, the story is brilliant and comfortably localised. This localisation of the narrative reinforces the connection with Hooley and his surroundings, all the while being driven in deeper with the ‘homegrown’ soundtrack, so to speak. Branching off abroad to places like London to promote the music prove costly and unsuccessful for Hooley, which make for sympathetic moments and emotional bonds with him. His cheerfulness and free-spirited attitude are very much similar to that of a hippie, but the way he dresses and presents himself would suggest otherwise; he even expresses his distaste for a pair of hippies who choose not to help him at the beginning of his journey.
The film is brilliantly shot, the quick fire sequences to kick off the film blast the audience into the chaos, the darkness, the limited level of hope and the grandeur of the chaos, the era and of course the movement. There are heartwarming moments that would truly generate a tear-jerk reaction to fellow punk enthusiasts, whilst the disastrous overtones of the bigger picture bring the incredible joyfulness back down to earth. The range of emotions that “Good Vibrations” is able to explore and present are excellently achieved.
Upon reflection, “Good Vibrations” is quite an incredible story of the “Godfather of Punk”. Touching, moving, humorous and uplifting, the film is supremely constructed and brilliantly acted. For the protagonist, Terry conveys a mixed emotional connection within the audience as a result of his bold and ambitious decisions, that sometimes, prove to be too consuming given his more important priorities, but ultimately, immense sympathy and eventual gratitude are felt towards this passionate, determined and iconic figure in music.