Creation Stories


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Creation Stories
"Passably entertaining as long as you haven't seen any other films." | Photo: courtesy of Glasgow Film Festival

If this film didn't take its title from Creation Records, one would have to consider it ironic, because there's nothing whatsoever that's creative about it. It's the story of the said company's founder, Alan McGee (variously played by Leo Flanagan and Ewen Bremner), who rises from life on a Glasgow housing estate to the pinnacle of music industry success, as represented by a sun lounger and a pool with random bikini-clad young women wandering around it. He wears sunglasses all the time. He makes pithy comments. Danny Boyle produces, and although Nick Moran is ostensibly in charge of the show, one can detect the former's presence through every predictable shot choice.

It begins, of course, with our young hero dwelling in supposed poverty, though actually he doesn't seem to be doing too badly by the standards of the time. His traditional working class father doesn't understand popular music or boys wearing make-up and his mum loves him but worries. Clare Keyte deserves credit for her marvellous set decoration, one of the film's few truly impressive touches, though it will make your eyes hurt to look at it. A montage of time-worn images position us in time and space but is so generic in itself that you'll still feel as if you've seen it 50 times before.

Young Alan loves music but doesn't have any obvious musical talent of his own. What he does have is an ear for the next big thing, and so he sets off to seek his fortune in London. Cue generic poverty porn soundtracked by the hits of the era. We then watch our here climb up, step by step, to the point where he's starting his own label, discover a few key bands which the audience may feel nostalgic about, make himself ill through a life of excess and learn important lessons along the way. With more pop songs, and more scantily clad women. And that's about it.

A brief foray into something different emerges in the final third when Alan dabbles in politics, but, as if afraid that viewers will find this too confusing, Moran has turned everybody involved into a cartoon. What might have qualified as satire comes across more like tots' TV. One suspects a certain tension in the writing team. Dean Cavanagh has managed to restrain Irvine Welsh's more experimental tendencies but whilst this has prevented Ecstasy-style derailment it has also removed anything that might have given this film a distinct personality.

Passably entertaining as long as you haven't seen any other films, Creation Stories isn't exactly bad - the production values are high, the cinematography polished, the star-studded supporting cast competent enough - it just lacks anything at all the might distinguish it from every other music industry film you've ever seen. Put them in a blender and this is the sticky, lugubrious fluid that would trickle out. If you're really into this bit of music history, it might have some nostalgia value, but you may as well just listen to the music and reflect on your own doubtless more memorable experiences in the period.

Reviewed on: 24 Feb 2021
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Creation Stories packshot
Creation Stories tells the unforgettable tale of infamous Creation Records label head Alan McGee; and of how one written-off young Glaswegian upstart rose to irrevocably change the face of British culture.

Director: Nick Moran

Writer: Dean Cavanagh, Irvine Welsh

Starring: Suki Waterhouse, Jason Isaacs, Rebecca Root, Rupert Everett

Year: 2021

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: UK


Glasgow 2021

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