Good Vibrations

Film

Drama

Good Vibrations.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Wed Sep 19 2012

This genial biopic of the ‘Godfather of Belfast Punk’, Terri Hooley, is a litany of rock-movie clichés: battered transit vans, seedy dives, heroic outsiders, shifty label execs, abandoned spouses, missed chances, take-all gambles and industrial quantities of cheap lager. None of which stops ‘Good Vibrations’ from being an impassioned, funny and monumentally likable myth-making comedy.

Much of the film’s charm is down to frontman Richard Dormer, a bit-part veteran whose wry, sly and sweetly sarcastic turn as Hooley deserves to make him a star. We first meet him working as a pub DJ in Troubles-torn mid-’70s Belfast, drained by the comedown from the Summer of Love and buffeted by the violent changes taking place in his beloved city. When he meets a good woman – Jodie Whittaker’s Ruth – and opens a record shop, the Good Vibrations of the title, Terri’s life begins to turn around. But it’s only when he discovers local punk band The Outcasts – and, hot on their heels, Derry’s favourite sons The Undertones – that he really finds his calling.

How much of this actually happened is a matter for conjecture, but it’s not especially relevant: like its similarly ramshackle and joyous predecessors ‘Velvet Goldmine’ and ‘24 Hour Party People’, ‘Good Vibrations’ is interested less in truth and more in, to paraphrase ‘Spinal Tap’, ‘the sights, sounds and smells’ of trench-level rock ‘n’ roll. But there’s a more serious side here that those films could never replicate: Belfast in the ’70s was a war zone, and the impact this has on Hooley and his beloved punks is truly eye-opening. It’s this simmering sense of dread and conflict which gives ‘Good Vibrations’ its edge, and allows its many moments of uplift to shine that much brighter.

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Release details

UK release:

Fri Mar 29, 2013

Duration:

103 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

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LiveReviews|9
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John Reynolds

Good Vibrations offers a perspective we rarely see in movies from the same period – the punks and their leader Terry Hooley display a rather adorable innocence. Hooley and the young members of bands such as Rudi and the Outcasts were dealing with a different world than their more famous counterparts in England, such as the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Brought up with the Troubles, these rockers are looking more to avoid political trouble. Compared with the intimidating likes of Johnny Rotten, their attitude seems practically welcoming. There are no lips, noses and ears harpooned with safety pins, no talk of toppling the towers of political corruption and no swastikas. Very refreshing to find a movie with such heart.

Gordon Love

I have been waiting for this movie all my adult life. It is a reaffirmation of my personal history and that of my city, Belfast. Punk made Belfast what it is to-day and the energy of the film reflects this. All aspects of the movie excel, but for me personally it is the first accurate, contemporary celluloid portrayal of my community – aggressive black humour, dogged determination underpinned with old fashioned sentimentality and a lack of respect for the Establishment. Protestants in Northern Ireland are often portrayed as rather dour and unaesthetic. Whilst Catholics tend to be seen as more creative and artistic, indeed Catholics are much more successful in the arts than Protestants. This in no way suggests that Protestants are discriminated against in the arts, we are not, but have simply been lagging behind, until now. So it is no mean feat that that the Good Vibrations movie shows the Protestant community in a refreshingly healthy and artistic light. For the benefit of readers from outside of Northern Ireland the two main bands portrayed in the movie and their fans where Protestant as were the initial wave of local punk bands, punk in Northern Ireland originated in the East Belfast Protestant heartland, Terri Hooley (the owner of Good Vibrations) came from the Protestant community, as did his partners in the record shop and the committee set up by Terry to run the famous Harp Bar were Protestant and of course the writers of the movie were Protestants. So I think that it is true to say that the Protestant ethic and history of rebellion fuelled the Northern Ireland punk scene from the start. Well done to all concerned

Gordon Love

I have been waiting for this movie all my adult life. It is a reaffirmation of my personal history and that of my city, Belfast. Punk made Belfast what it is to-day and the energy of the film reflects this. All aspects of the movie excel, but for me personally it is the first accurate, contemporary celluloid portrayal of my community – aggressive black humour, dogged determination underpinned with old fashioned sentimentality and a lack of respect for the Establishment. Protestants in Northern Ireland are often portrayed as rather dour and unaesthetic. Whilst Catholics tend to be seen as more creative and artistic, indeed Catholics are much more successful in the arts than Protestants. This in no way suggests that Protestants are discriminated against in the arts, we are not, but have simply been lagging behind, until now. So it is no mean feat that that the Good Vibrations movie shows the Protestant community in a refreshingly healthy and artistic light. For the benefit of readers from outside of Northern Ireland the two main bands portrayed in the movie and their fans where Protestant as were the initial wave of local punk bands, punk in Northern Ireland originated in the East Belfast Protestant heartland, Terri Hooley (the owner of Good Vibrations) came from the Protestant community, as did his partners in the record shop and the committee set up by Terry to run the famous Harp Bar were Protestant and of course the writers of the movie were Protestants. So I think that it is true to say that the Protestant ethic and history of rebellion fuelled the Northern Ireland punk scene from the start. Well done to all concerned

Paul Murphy

A league above your average rock biopic - you are enthused by the music but particularly importantly, of the music's role as a unifier and energiser, a vehicle for Hooley to carry his 60s socialist background and sense of hope from diversity, through against the oppressive prison / oppressively narrow prism of the Troubles. As Hooley says in the film: "I used to have lots of friends: socialist, Marxist, anarchist, feminist and of no stripe at at all. Now I only have two types of friends: Catholic and Protestant." Well worth catching - I hope it's still on at more than just the one cinema listed by TO.(5-11/4/13).

Martin

What a terrific film. Well made, highly enjoyable with a great cast and some classic tunes including the obvious (the Undertone's Teenage Kicks) and the less obvious (Rudi's Big Time). This is a must see film.

Martin

What a terrific film. Well made, highly enjoyable with a great cast and some classic tunes including the obvious (the Undertone's Teenage Kicks) and the less obvious (Rudi's Big Time). This is a must see film.

John Cavandish

What a dreadful film. This music bringing a generation of people together notion is errant nonsense. There were twenty one bars, lounges and discos all within 2 minutes walk from the Harp Bar -Hooleys punk hangout (happy to list these if anyone is interested). In fact there were two large discos in the city centre the ‘King Arthur’ and the ‘Celebrity Club’ catering for up to 2000 kids between them every weekend, whilst the crucible of punk the Harp bar held only 200 at best. Disco music was the most prevalent music in Belfast and indeed in Ireland at the time so if music did bring a generation together it could not have been punk it must have been disco. I believe that the directors, producers and writers of this movie had a social responsibility to take an issue as dangerous and complex as sectarianism seriously. Over the 30 years of the civil strife in Belfast many thousands of individuals and organisations worked at great personal risk to oppose sectarianism e.g. community workers, social workers, youth workers, The Peace People etc. This movie does an appalling disservice to these heroic people in suggesting that the owner of the Good Vibrations record shop was some kind of messianic figure who delivered Belfast from a sectarian hell. Considering the amount of public money used to support this movie the least we could have expected was some semblance of accuracy and not the flippant approach to an issue that resulted in thousands of deaths. Where is the evidence that Good Vibrations brought opposing religious groups or bigots together? The punks appear to have been people who found common ground in a music genre and fashion style and by nature were not sectarian. There were opportunities for punks to address Belfast’s sectarianism in the late 70’s when there was a fledgling Rock Against Sectarianism movement trying to get underway similar to the UK’s Rock Against Racism but the punk bands did not want to get involved! So Belfast’s punks hid from the serious issues of their city in the Harp Bar were they would not be bothered by real life. However this does not make the movie that different from other rock/music movies which usually have a social/political redemption/justification as a subplot and Good Vibrations’ entree here is no different. You know the ending from the very first and so its up to the lead to carry the weight of "Good Vibrations is more than just a shop it’s a way of life " ballast, which Dormer pulls of admirably, so its "mission accomplished!". I believe that it is worth mentioning that punks were irrelevant to the armed elements of the Belfast conflict and were not singled out for attack by paramilitaries for being punks. Most of the violence associated with the scene was for the most part punk on punk.

sean hennessy

As someone who was there and photographed much of the contemporary scene of both the Northern Ireland troubles and the limited Belfast social scene (everywhere shut by 10 o'clock and there was GENUINE risk you could either be picked up by a murder gang or caught up in a terrorist incident) I have to say that necessarily what the film depicts is pretty much true and gives a pretty good idea of what living in Belfast in those times was like. TERRI was very much the one ray of light in those dark days, plus his parties were always a great way to end the night.

sean hennessy

As someone who was there and photographed much of the contemporary scene of both the Northern Ireland troubles and the limited Belfast social scene (everywhere shut by 10 o'clock and there was GENUINE risk you could either be picked up by a murder gang or caught up in a terrorist incident) I have to say that necessarily what the film depicts is pretty much true and gives a pretty good idea of what living in Belfast in those times was like. TERRI was very much the one ray of light in those dark days, plus his parties were always a great way to end the night.