Good Vibrations ****
Running Time: 103 Mins
Director: Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn
Starring: Richard Dormer, Jodie Whittiker, Mark Ryder, Adrian Dunbar
(Movie House, Dublin Road. 27/3/13)
THE life of Terri Hooley has long been a cult tale within the under filled back bars of Belfast’s darkly treasured alternative establishments. His is a story overshadowed by the kind of troubling headline grabbers which he has fought not directly against, but in spite of, for nearly 40 years. Through funding from the BBC, Northern Ireland Screen, the Irish Film Fund and a few Northern Irish musical heroes, writers Glenn Patterson and Colin Carberry have finally brought the story of the self- proclaimed ‘Godfather of Punk’ to the big screen.
Getting to this point was no mean feat, as ten years of independent development and film festival visits have proved. Good Vibrations which premiered at last year’s Belfast Film Festival has been to London, Glasgow, USA and Moscow, before getting its deserved and much-anticipated big screen distribution this week.
With Richard Dormer in lead role, Good Vibrations is a refreshing and fantastically humorous look at one man’s perseverance though a world that wasn’t quite sure how to handle him. In the heart Belfast during the Troubles, Hooley stood as a beacon for individuality, expression and for those who were too busy dancing to worry about fighting.
An anarchist with too big a heart, Terri Hooley is portrayed as a loveable but frustratingly generous man, who would rather put on a show than reap the reward. Initially touching on his early years, the feature focuses on Hooley’s record shop and recording label and his initial brush with fame in discovering ‘The Undertones. ‘It Furthermore it shows how Hooley became deeply involved with Belfast’s underground punk scene, while struggling to deal with his growing reputation.
Dormer (Terri Hooley) and Ruth (Jodie Whittaker) give a raw and untarnished performance as husband and wife. Hooley’s extended family of musicians in the form of ‘The Outcasts’ and ‘Rudi’ add considerable humour and depth to the story. All this set amongst the back drop of the Troubles’ creates a paradoxical world of self-expression against true social repression. Dormer’s Hooley is a beacon of defiance against the seemingly pre-chosen paths within the local community.
Good Vibrations is a joy to watch from beginning to end, putting the story of Belfast’s troubles in a uniquely new light. It has already received several standing ovations throughout its world-wide film festival tour, so finally the man himself will get the acclaim, he so selflessly deserves.
With fantastic honesty and superb direction, this is a film that should undoubtedly go on to win awards and continue to win heart and soul around the world.
Review by Matthew P.Collins