Poor dialogue lets down an otherwise whimsical love story
This breathless mismatched love story, filmed entirely over two days at T in the Park 2010, is the first of two new Scottish films from David Mackenzie (Young Adam, Hallam Foe), the second being next month’s Glasgow-set sci-fi Perfect Sense. With You Instead Mackenzie attempts a contemporary spin on a classic plot - two characters at loggerheads thrown together and slowly falling in love – but while it’s not without scruffy charms, the film’s rough edges are its undoing.
Debut screenwriter Thomas Leveritt’s plot contrivances are jarring and forced, a fact only made more obvious by the real and very recognisable setting. As the rival rock stars accidentally handcuffed together, Luke Treadaway and Natalia Tena have an infectious spark, but Leveritt’s awful dialogue lets them down at every turn. Most damagingly, there is a lot of talk about the power of music, but few demonstrations of it.
That is a shame, as the film is dotted with moments of inspiration where Mackenzie’s admirable ambition pays off. A central montage, backed by a stunning live performance from Scottish singer Jo Mango, brings a much-needed sense of focus to the story, and the opening single-take song sequence sets a wonderfully whimsical tone.
Selected release from Fri 16 Sep.