Low budget Irish filmmaker Shimmy Marcus makes a bid for the mainstream with this formulaic but crowd-pleasing teen drama. It’s 1974, and bored teenager Joe’s (Martin Compston) life is transformed when he pursues unattainable ice-queen Jane (Nichola Burley) to a night at Wigan Casino and discovers the exploding Northern Soul dance scene. On the same night he bumps into Mandy (Felicity Jones), a childhood friend who still holds a torch for Joe. Throw in Alan (Craig Parkinson), Jane’s dance-floor king – and prize tool – boyfriend, and the stage is set for a comfortably predictable story of heartbreak and hip-swivelling.
The script by first-time writer Jeff Williams is workmanlike, but Compston, moving confidently away from his usual Glasgow hard-man persona into likeable leading-man territory, gives SoulBoy a warmth and energy that is irresistible. Jones plays the cute girl-next-door with the same charm and appeal she demonstrated in Cemetery Junction, and Burley, last seen strutting her stuff in Streetdance 3D, works wonders with a thankless, one-dimensional role. It all ends with a dance-off that’s as cheesy as it is uplifting, but Soulboy’s heart is in the right place.
Selected release, Fri 3 Sep.