Film Review: You Instead

You Instead features an interesting enough idea, but is let down by the finished product. Director David Mackenzie needed a stronger script to work from.

American musician Adam is due to play with his band at Scotland’s T in the Park festival. Singer and musician Morello is also due to perform, but gets into an altercation with Adam. When the pair are handcuffed together, they have to survive each other’s company until a solution can be found…

Filmed entirely on location during the T in the Park festival, You Instead offers a certain buoyancy in its tone. Nevertheless, the film does not really capitalise on this. The main problem with David Mackenzie’s film is the script. There simply is not enough dialogue to produce a successful relationship between the two protagonists. The entire film takes place over the course of two days, therefore the relationship needed to be developed succinctly. Yet without sufficient banter or meaningful dialogue, this aspect falls flat. Whilst there are some nice moments, the film required sustained interaction between the pair. This does not commit the audience to become overly involved with the narrative.

The first third of You Instead is a bit boring, but the film picks up after this. By the end, the film is really rather endearing, if instantly forgettable. There are too many cutaways to other bands performing during the course of the movie. In one sense, this is understandable as the film was filmed over the course of an actual festival. Nonetheless, these scenes do not compensate for the lack of development the film desperately needed.

Music understandably plays an important part in the movie. The soundtrack is effective, but more so as an accompaniment to scenes rather than the clips of bands playing on stage. The two fictional bands that feature in the film also perform. It is these scenes that actually work quite well.

Performances in You Instead are adequate, although Luke Treadaway’s American accent is not great. There isn’t a need for the character to be American, so the unevenness of the accent is emphasised by this fact. Natalia Tena does a decent job as Morello. The supplementary characters are just that; there only to serve a purpose rather than showing any personality themselves. The pairing off of these characters is a trite move that detracts from the film’s dominant strand.

You Instead‘s intention may have been to be a cute music film, but unfortunately the script failed to produce anything memorable.

Film Review: Attack the Block

Alien invasion films are often grand in scale and set against an ostentatious backdrop. Attack the Block takes place on a council estate near Stockwell. Despite this, the movie shares many of the same conventions as its more glamorous predecessors.

On the same night that Moses and his gang of teens mug a young nurse on her way home, something strange falls from the sky. Moses kills the strange creature and returns with his friends to their south London council estate. Before they get home, the gang are interrupted by something that is attacking the block…

After a slow start, Attack the Block is plenty of fun once it gets going. Joe Cornish’s film follows a general invasion movie plot, adapting it to suit the setting. The film adheres to many of the conventions of this genre; not all the characters make it to the finale, for example. The characters are archetypal, with the unlikely hero, comedy sidekick and the innocent bystander caught in a usual situation.

The unlikely heroes of Attack the Block are a gang of teenage muggers. While unlikely heroes are commonplace in this type of movie, Cornish takes it a step beyond in asking viewers to empathise with and support these characters. The nature of the crime at the beginning of the film makes it difficult. These are not desperate teens committing crimes under duress. Rather, they are a group of teenage boys who pick on a single unarmed woman with the sole purpose of taking her valuables. Therefore, it is difficult to obtain a sense of affiliation with these characters, and to care too much about their plight later in the movie.

Cornish’s film is clearly a homage to earlier science-fiction/monster movies. Attack the Block can be quite gory at times, although these incidents are usually short lived. The method of dispatching the creatures certainly harks back to 1984’s Gremlins, among other films. The soundtrack is in keeping with the urban setting, and works well to generate atmosphere.

John Boyega is an adequate anti-hero as Moses. The young actor lacks conviction at times, but this is forgivable considering his lack of experience. Nick Frost brings humour in a small role, as does Luke Treadaway; the most amusing character in the film. Other performances are fairly good overall.

Attack the Block might mostly be appreciated by teens the same age as the protagonists. Sci-fi fans may find amusement in the references, while other viewers are likely to find the film entertaining, if not exactly captivating. It does not quite live up to the hype, but Attack the Block is enjoyable enough.