The Alcohol Years

The Alcohol Years

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Emma Slawinski

Read Emma Slawinski's film review of The Alcohol Years

"I didn't make this film to talk all over it," pleads director Carol Morley.

As the commentary goes against the original conception of the documentary, in practice it provides an alternative version.

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However, Morley accepts the demands of DVD packaging with good grace and rather than keeping her cards close to her chest, reveals a good deal about the techniques she applied in the making of this film. She wanted to elicit certain "performances" from her interviewees and a certain response from her audience. On the other hand, this wasn't just an exercise in narcissism for her. She claims she wanted to reconstruct a period that, in her memory, is riddled with gaps and hazy patches. She also wanted to allow her friends the space to become characters in the film themselves.

She expresses in more detail what they hinted at, both about herself and about the experience of Manchester in the Eighties. "Everyone I hung out with wanted to be famous." she observes, matter-of-factly. "I went out all the time. It was my identity. It was my occupation." This could be her epitaph to the lost years of her life between 16 and 21.

Underlying the appraisal of her own promiscuity is the age-old complaint that men who sleep around are studs and women who sleep around are sluts. It was true in the Eighties and it's true now, but you can't help but think the unelaborated version in the documentary, minus commentary, is better than banal textbook comments about "constructing female identities." Aside from such small lapses, it's as interesting to watch with the commentary, as without - two for the price of one.

If it still doesn't sound like your cup of tea, the DVD also includes two interesting and poignant shorts. Stalin My Neighbour looks at a woman who becomes obsessed with local history as a way of distracting herself from a troubled past. Everyday Something, my favourite of the two, depicts oddities of British life from newspaper clippings that Morley collected over the years with a careful aesthetic. Support comes from John Peel's rumbling voice-over that frames the stories without a hint of judgment.

Reviewed on: 04 Jul 2005
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The Alcohol Years packshot
A former groupie returns to Manchester to find out who she was back then in the Eighties.
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Product Code: FILM001

Region: 2

Sound: Dolby Digital

Extras: Director

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