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Northern Soul


Stars: Elliot James Langridge, Antonia Thomas, Josh Whitehouse, Christian MacKay, Lisa Stansfield, James Lance, Alex Esmail, Jack Gordon, John Thomson, Steve Coogan

Director: Elaine Constantine

The 1970s: John (a well-in-character Langridge), a disenfranchised teenager in 'Burnsworth' (the film was shot in Bolton and Blackburn), bullied at school, discovers soul music and, with a new set of friends, all drug-taking 'northern soul' fans who encourage him to change his clothes and hair, toughens up and joins the scene.

Already incipiently rebellious, John throws up school, smashing furniture on his way out and, telling his unpleasant teacher (Coogan) to eff-off, marches away to a life of bedsit flats, popping amphetamines and other uppers, all the while dreaming of discovering rare records, becoming a deejay and flying off to a better life in America.

We've been here before, of course, with the rather lighter SoulBoy. Like the characters in that film, John and his mates don their black leather jackets and take the road to Wigan, home of northern soul. In this case, though, violence and the police are on their heels, destroying lives and threatening John's tentative romance with Angela (Thomas), a mixed-race nurse.

The film is well plotted - although it does have rather too many scenes of dancers mechanically moving up and down - and decently performed, but the director ignores the chance to end her film with a disillusioned John on the dance floor, staring glazedly at the camera, and drifts on for another dozen minutes to a semi-upbeat ending. Performances are professional throughout, though too little is seen of the once star-billed Ricky Tomlinson.

(There is no copyright date on this film)

David Quinlan

UK 2014. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour (unspecified).
101 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 3, Swearing 3.

Review date: 16 Oct 2014