Spike Island Movie Review
There's a terrific blast of nostalgia in this finely crafted film, which will probably make it a hit for Stone Roses fans, but it's so jaggedly edited that the plot is almost impenetrable. Without a real sense of who the characters are, it's very difficult to get involved in their adventure.
It's 1990, and a group of teens are overexcited about the upcoming Stone Roses concert on Spike Island in Widnes. Gary (Tittensor), known as "Tits", is the ostensible leader of the garage band Shadowcaster, along with his best pal Dodge (Mirallegro) and their friends Zippy, Gaz and Penfold (Murphy, Long and Heald). The problem is that they don't have tickets for the event, and Gary plans to meet there with his long-time crush Sally (Clarke). Meanwhile, he's distracted by the fact that his father (Evets) is ill and his mother is annoyed that he's spending all his time with his friends instead of being with her at the hospital.
Along with the various strands of Gary's story, there are also sideplots for several other characters, which diffuses the film away from the central narrative about five guys trying to get into a landmark concert staged by their idols. The film leaps around between all of these storylines without properly settling down, which means none of the relationships ever come to life. For example, we can see that Gary and Dodge have years of camaraderie, although we don't really understand why they're still friends now.
The other problem is that the filmmakers indulge in the dying father subplot to provide some emotions, but this essentially obliterates everything else, including why this concert is so important to these young men. And the thick dialect combined with overlapping banter means that we miss a lot of the interaction. Instead, we're left admiring the honest performances and detailed production design, which offers plenty of terrific music to keep our toes tapping along. We may enjoy the memories, but it's not very satisfying.