Good Vibrations


Reviewed by: Sophie Monks Kaufman

Good Vibrations
"This is a joyous pearl of a film."

Firstly, this is not a film about the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys have no lines in this film. ‘Good Vibrations’ is the record store that Terri ‘The godfather of punk’ Hooley opened in Belfast in the Seventies, a time when, as you probably know, Northern Ireland was besieged by troubles of the explosive, civil kind.

News footage of sobering events are spliced into our introduction to Terri, played with sparkle and vigour by Richard Dormer, as the idea of opening a record store takes hold and will not be quashed. “There’s got to be people like us out there. They’ve just fallen through the cracks,” he says to new wife, Ruth (Jodie Whittaker).

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Ruth peers cautiously at Terri as you might an unexploded grenade. Yet she loves him and loves music and this propels her to get a job as a truant officer to earn collateral for a bank loan. The rest would be history, except for the fact that Good Vibrations ain’t closed for business just yet.

This is a joyous pearl of a film. If you’re into punk, listening to recordings from the label Hooley went on to form (well, why not?) will scratch you where a person needs to be scratched, particularly the scene where John Peel discovers what fans know to be his favourite song ever. Teenage dreams are hard to beat, and for two and a half minutes, they are as live and kicking for viewers as they were to the legendary DJ, Terri and, but naturally, The Undertones.

Even if the music doesn’t do it for you, there is a lot to be gained from this beautifully rendered character study of a man disinterested in the constraints placed on him by bad historic timing. Dormer’s Hooley is no fool. He knows what’s going on and, equally, when complications arise because of his own reckless behavior he graciously pays the price for living a pure punk philosophy. Even when shouting and screaming, Dormer infuses his character with coherence and intelligence. A more sympathetic on-screen presence, you’ll be hard-pressed to find at the London Film Festival.

To add further credibility, here’s a little tale. When the film had its world premiere in Belfast earlier this year, Hooley was in the audience and Hooley cried. The godfather of punk shed tears over this film. Good good good vibrations.

Reviewed on: 30 Sep 2012
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Good Vibrations packshot
The story of Terri Hooley, Ulster’s Godfather of Punk, and the record shop and music label through which he promoted cult bands.
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Director: Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn

Writer: Colin Carberry, Glenn Patterson

Starring: Richard Dormer, Jodie Whittaker, Dylan Moran

Year: 2012

Runtime: 103 minutes

Country: UK, Ireland


London 2012

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