Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan work well together. This is the film that introduced me to them both and I’ve been a bit of a fan ever since. As for the film’s subject matter, I’m not particularly enthused about the post-punk music scene and I’m of the opinion that the best thing Ian Curtis ever did was kill himself to make way for New Order – a far more interesting band than Joy Division ever were, and that Happy Mondays were an overrated piece of shit that can only be appreciated while on drugs.
I am however, a fan of music biopics and that’s why I watched this the first time round.
Coogan plays Tony Wilson, a local television presenter who takes it upon himself to bring the handful of bands that make up the local music scene to the rest of the world by starting a record label and establishing a club – the legendary Hacienda – for them to play in. This plan is beautiful in essence but everything is a battle from getting the co-operations of bands, producers and eventually the drug lords who take over the scene at its height in the 80’s.
An outstanding cast including Andy Serkis, Paddy Considine, John Simm and many of the still living members of the scene turning up as supporting characters help to make this the compelling yet irreverent piece of storytelling that it is. Winterbottom’s naturalistic approach to directing helps make this film a work of art with the way he weaves fact and fiction into an almost fairytale narrative of self-awareness, reality and surrealism.
Portrayals of real-life characters are lovingly larger than life but still retain an element of warts-and-all that lets you believe that maybe this was how everything could have been.
Funny, tragic, perfect. I highly recommend it.
For more Winterbottom/Coogan works see: