Good Vibrations (2012)

Starring: Richard Dormer, Jodie Whittaker, Liam Cunningham, Dylan Moran, Kerr Logan, Adrian Dunbar

Directed by: Lisa Barros D'Sa, Glenn Leyburn

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Richard Dormer as Terri Hooley in Good Vibrations

In a week in which I celebrate a significant birthday ending in a nought, it's nice to be reminded that I'm still too young for some things. But if, like me, you never experienced the f**ked up euphoria of the '70s punk scene, you can always relive it vicariously through Good Vibrations, the delightfully upbeat biopic of Belfast's Godfather of Punk, the founder of the Good Vibrations label and the man who brought the world the Undertones: Terri Hooley.

Who? Yeah, me and all. Too young! But if the real Hooley is anything like his irrepressible on-screen counterpart – charismatic, fearless, infectiously energetic and a complete nightmare to live with – I think he must be proud to see his vision captured so exuberantly.

The setting is 1970s Belfast, and in the face of sectarian attacks, fascism, guns, bombs, beatings and London record company elitism, one-eyed Terri is single-minded in the pursuit of his dream (albeit in a haphazard, impulsive, seat-of-his-pants kind of way): to bring the free-spirited rebellion of punk to the his troubled country people. Impresario, socialist and truly terrible businessman, Terri discards music industry fat cat clichés in favour of the best rock'n'roll cliché of all: the power of music to bring folk together and free the soul. For while punk may have a violent reputation, a few punch ups in the dance hall are nothing compared to the deep-rooted hatred and violence of the Troubles.

Jodie Whittaker as Ruth and Richard Dormer as Terri in Good Vibrations

As any music biopic worth its salt proves, from Amadeus to Walk the Line, visionary musicians and 24-hour party people don't make very good husbands, and it's long-suffering wife Ruth (Jodie Whittaker) who struggles to hold things together while Terri lives the dream. But despite marital ups and downs – and the continual reminders that Terri's rock'n'roll story is framed by and formed by the tumultuous, unstable, threatening times in which he lived, played out through genuine grim and grainy footage of police, soldiers, guns, explosions, sectarian graffiti and balaclava-covered faces – Good Vibrations is very much a rose-tinted glasses, 'let's put on a show' kinda movie. It's also the first film since Rock of Ages that has made me want to leap out of my seat and dance around the cinema: we have to wait to hear 'Teenage Kicks', but when we do, it's simply awesome.

Great performances (particularly from Richard Dormer as Terri), riotous music, sharp editing and spot-on horrible '70s styling: all in all, as rock'n'roll movies go, Good Vibrations is hard to beat.

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