GOOD VIBRATIONS is a rambling rock-and-roll film set in Belfast, during the bombings, shootings and sectarian violence, in which boy meets band, boy loses a big band, boy meets lots of bands. Oh, and along the way boy also meets girl, loses girl and then at the end looks like he gets the girl back again.
The boy is the bewhiskered and generally shaggy Terri Hooley and GOOD VIBRATIONS is based upon the true story of this eternal dreamer who refuses to let the IRA, love or lack of lucre intrude upon his fantasy existence. He even manages to lose money on a benefit concert he organises – not because he isn’t able to make a buck but because, despite the bills and final demands piling up for his Good Vibrations record shop and record label, he thinks it’s just not as important as the music and the fans’ enjoyment.
Hooley, played to pull-your-hair-out frustrating perfection by Richard Dormer, is content to be a DJ in a deserted pub until he discovers punk rock in the form of a band called Rudi.
But he’s already met the sweet but by no means docile Ruth (Jodie Whittaker) and even though they get married and have a baby he’s not ready to leave his punk ‘family’. And that’s even before the cuckoo in the nest arrives in the form of seminal punk band The Undertones and their massive hit – in reputational if not financial terms – Teenage Kicks. True to form, Hooley even fails to fully capitalise upon The Undertones’ talent.
In many ways this is an aimless, circuitous film, a shaggy dog story of a shaggy bloke, made lumpy in the middle by the arrival of The Undertones. It is however authentically shot in the somber yet warm earthy tones of the time and accurately conveys the shot in the arm that was punk in the era of bloated prog-rock giants. GOOD VIBRATIONS is worth seeing for this and the soundtrack alone. And, if metaphors are your thing, for the redemptive power of music as a uniting force that overcome evil etc etc. Keep an eye open for Terri Hooley himself as an accordion player and Black Books’ Dylan Moran.
GOOD VIBRATIONS played Sydney (and other Australian cities including Byron Bay and Canberra) as part of the British Film Festival. in November last year.
The film will be getting a national release around on Thursday June 12.