Schemers

**1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Schemers
"McLean's faith in his own abilities appears to be little diminished down the years." | Photo: Courtesy of EIFF

Nostalgic Scottish music fans have been spoilt for choice this year, with Brian Welsh's Beats dancing back to the end of the rave scene of the Nineties and, now, debut director Dave McLean mining the story of his own start in the music promotion biz in Schemers, set as the Seventies grudgingly gave way to the Eighties in Dundee.

The film, which surprisingly marks the first feature-length fiction film to be made in the city, got the Scottish seal of approval when it had its world premiere at Edinburgh Film Festival, taking home the Audience Award. But though it has plenty of energy and does a decent job of putting its hometown on the map, it's so focused on the central character, that it struggles to leave a lasting impression.

Copy picture

Much of the verve comes from Conor Berry in the lead role - another young Scottish name to look out for going forward, alongside Beats stars Lorn Macdonald and Cristian Ortega. He embraces the chancer spark of young Davie. A likely lad, still too young to be troubled by self-doubt, he sets about organising local gigs, while treading a fine line with the local gangsters, who appear to be on loan from an early Guy Ritchie flick and struggle to generate much in the way of genuine dread. Driving the film for the most part is a build up to a proposed gig involving Iron Maiden, providing Davie and his pals John (Grant Robert Keelan) and Scott (Sean Berry) can come up with the money.

McLean's faith in his own abilities appears to be little diminished down the years, as he attempts to mimic the sort of free-frame, punk energy of Trainspotting - helped, it must be said, by a strong technical team - but his unwillingness to flesh out any character other than himself becomes increasingly wearying, as does the heavy use of voiceover. The women, in particular, are gossamer light - Davie's love interest Shona (Tara Lee) is, presumably, intended to be feisty but despite Lee's best efforts just ends up being flat. Saved considerably by its pace and the fact it doesn't take itself too seriously, it's a shame McLean views himself so much as a headliner that he forgets to do justice to the people who were his support acts from the start.

Reviewed on: 15 Jul 2019
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Based on director's own experience as a fledgling promoter who came from the Schemes of Dundee.

Director: Dave McLean

Writer: Martin Allison, Dave McLean, Khaled Spiewak, Kyle Titterton

Starring: Conor Berry, Sean Connor, Grant Robert Keelan, Tara Lee, Kit Clark, Blair Robertson, Mingus Johnston, Paula Masterton, Alastair Thomson Mills, David Izatt, Kerry Browne, Jim Sweeney, Gordon Morris, Liza Callinicos, Reanne Farley

Year: 2019

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: UK

Festivals:

EIFF 2019

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