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Review: Good Vibrations

April 2, 2013

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


Greg Cowan of The Outcasts (L) with Mark Ryder (R), the actor who plays him, in 'Good Vibrations'

Directing duo Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn return with their latest cinematic piece, Good Vibrations which details the life of infamous Godfather of punk Terri Hooley in this genial biopic of his troubled life.  Armed ‘with a bit of cardboard and some pressed plastic’ music scene veteran Hooley (Richard Dormer) spurs an army of young rebellious punks into action, becoming a trailblazer amongst a dissimilar band of adolescent punks.

‘Between the bombings and shootings, the religious hatred and the settling of old scores,’ Hooley wanted nothing more than to ‘open a record store on great Victoria Street.’ With Hooley’s blinding faith in the ‘revolutionary power of the 7” single’ his life began to take a step in the right direction. Hooley is first introduced to us as a pub DJ in a conflicted Belfast during the 1970s, where he meets his long suffering wife, Ruth – played by actress Jodie Whitaker.

Hooley’s wife begins to feel the strain of their relationship take place after Hooley’s love of music takes centre stage, even before his new born daughter. From this point onwards however, whilst Belfast was at the height of its troubles the Godfather of punk opened up the ‘Good Vibrations’ record shop which also later became home to his label.

After finally owning his own record store and record label titled Good Vibrations, Hooley discovered a local punk band, The Outcasts – and, not so long after the boys from Derry, The Undertones – which really elevated Hooley to greater success.

On a trip to London to plug his new found sound from The Undertones, Hooley came face to face with rejection after rejection from record labels in the city. Hooley finally came into some luck when The Undertones’ punky soundtrack Teenage Kicks was played twice in one night by legendary Radio One DJ John Peel.

Much of the film’s allure stems from Richard Dormer’s passionate portrait of Terri Hooley. He inhabits the role with a comedic and sweetly sarcastic performance complimenting the film’s narrative beautifully. Hooley’s charming and endearing persona makes him an easy character to engage with.

Kerr Logan as Feargal Sharkey small

The film is structured well and is rather humorous and mildly entertaining, however, there isn’t a great deal of action from the secondary characters and the narrative drags at points. The film overall is relatively entertaining and the music and songs are plentiful throughout the film, with a medley of punk, reggae and rock which resolutely encourages you to relive each song as if it was only released yesterday. I’d recommend this film to anyone who’s seeking an uplifting rockumentary this Easter.

Harry Mills.

Good Vibrations is out now in cinemas.