Good Vibrations Review
June 12th, 2012
The Good Vibrations movie is presented as a biopic about the life of an Irish music scene veteran Terri Hooley. The movie tells the story of the record store-owner, who opened up shop at the height of the Belfast civil rights conflict in the 1970's and the latter stages of the punk scene. Actor Richard Dormer plays the role of Hooley in the Glenn Patterson and Colin Carberry-written movie. The movie might be worth seeing as an anthropological curiosity, but, as a fully-formed feature film, it's lacking in all key categories. Plot is ignored in favour of chunks of key moments in Hooleys life which is presented as legendary. Yet for the most part the portrayal is unremarkable - and legendary only in terms of the myths he propagated around himself, so the whole biopic promotion seems pointless. His life long association with the music industry was only as a fan and amateur protagonist. Yet the film hangs his legendary status not only on the myths but also on the fact that he stumbled upon a band (the Undertones) and passed them on to a U.S. record major whereby they achieved moderate success. Attributing the success to Hooley rather undermines the ability of the band themselves. I am not accusing the Directors Lisa Barros D'Sa and Glenn Leyburn of being socially irresponsible, because, as filmmakers, their responsibility is to present their vision, not to teach a history lesson. However, by adopting this approach, they rob the movie of potential dramatic tension. Good Vibrations becomes a sporadically interesting glimpse into the rather tame and parochial world of music nerds. Those wishing for a full-on, comprehensive look at the Punk era will be disappointed. The Directors do have some good ideas that result in a few inspired scenes, but the story - at least what there is of a story - is flaccid, and the characters are porously presented and developed. The directors may sympathize with them, but they never get the audience to that point. There is also some lazy film making, the flying scene sequences stir memories of similarly bizarre moments in The Big Labowsky. It's possible that Good Vibrations' target audience (old punks and hippies now in their 50's to 70's) will adore this movie. David Holmes' music supervision is likely to give the film short-lived cult status among record collecting nerds and may be seen as an interesting but embarrassing period piece.