Directed by John Carney
Written by John Carney
I was looking forward to this movie, as I usually love any movie that explores music and the bands behind it. However, this movie fails to explore music in any artistic sense; I should have realised this from the tag-line of the film:
“Boy meets girl, girl unimpressed, boy starts band.”
The premise of forming a band to impress a girl rubbed me the wrong way instantly. The movie explores the realms of song-writing, but to a very, very limited level. The film also almost completely neglects the important element of band members, how they interact, how their personalities clash or gel with others. Are we supposed to believe that all these random people all got along, with no replacing of musicians? No arguments over creative direction?
I realise this is a movie, and yes they are teenagers, but in the real world, good music doesn’t work that way. This movie preaches some of the worst things about being in a band, like it is ‘cool’, or something to brag about. Music is an outlet for creativity, for pain, for emotion. It is the universal language that can connect any two people from any part of the world. You won’t find any of this in the movie though.
The opening scene had me thinking this was going to comment on music and the process of moving from the bedroom to the stage, as we begin with Cosmo, the aspiring ‘musician’, recording himself singing as we hear what I assume are his parents arguing in the background. It is a poignant scene, and I was looking forward to more. The rest of the film though is a romantic comedy wrapped in the façade of being a movie about music.
Don’t get me wrong, there is some excellent dialogue, especially when Cosmo’s brother opens up and tells his brother that he has stopped smoking hash for two days because he hasn’t done anything with his life. That hit me hard, especially as I will be 30 soon and in a similar position to Cosmo’s brother. It is also especially well delivered by Jack Reynor. The music is excellent too, matching the era the movie is set in perfectly. The song “Drive It Like You Stole It” is a great tune.
But, I still can’t shake the fact that this film only explores the light side of music, of playing in a band, that dream to play on stage one day. It is uneven, it doesn’t explore the dark corners of the subject matter, it doesn’t delve into the concept of a band; that is, several people all being on the same page, creatively as well as rhythmically.
Personality should also play a big role, but in this movie it is almost non-existent. All the band members are bland people who aren’t memorable in any way, and they all got together very continently. The band even resort to asking a black kid from their school! Because, you know, black people can play music. Not only is this racist and poorly written, but it is something that belongs in a South Park episode.
Cosmo starts the film as a pretty bland kid, which was the intention I am sure, but Ferdia Walsh-Peelo didn’t convince me that much had changed by the end of the movie. The girl likes his music, and that is about it. His aforementioned brother is great, and is easily the best character, but he doesn’t get much screen-time. A pity, as he is the only memorable character in the entire movie.
If I can continue my rant, and I will; for a movie whose premise is that a guy pretends to be in a band just to get a girl, which is what this is and nothing more, I find it odd that the girl in question isn’t particularly interesting. She is pretty, of course! But she is just another fake person to go along with Cosmo’s cardboard band-mates; all of them only there simply because the film says so, none of them memorable, none have anything interesting to say.
This girl’s connection with Cosmo doesn’t mean much when both parties have personalities that rival that of grey brick walls.
But hey, I can certainly see why folks like this flick. It is funny at times, it is light-hearted, and great for a relaxing watch. The music is fantastic too. But I was very unimpressed with the premise of creating a band to be cool. That is my problem, and I realise that, but because of it I couldn’t stop finding flaws in the scenes where the band members are together. It depicts song-writing and making it to the stage as being a simple thing. Ask any seasoned musician and they will tell you that this notion is complete horse-shit. And ultimately that is what ruins this film: it is incredibly unrealistic. This isn’t sci-fi, it is a movie about real subject, and it treats that subject with incredible disrespect.
Two beers out of a sixer, ‘cos the music was decent.
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