Where You’re Meant to Be (4 stars)

Aidan Moffat in a red bobble hat

credit: Neale Smith

Glasgow Film Festival: Aidan Moffat is the focus of a moving and idiosyncratic doc

The fish-out-of-water trope is a familiar one in literature, drama and sitcoms. As Falkirk indie king Aidan Moffat travels around Scotland during the making of Where You’re Meant to Be, he appears to be swimming against a tide of everything from casual indifference to outright hostility. His crime? Taking old Scottish folk songs and injecting them with a contemporary (and often frank) sensibility.

But, as Paul Fegan’s beautiful documentary is keen to note, the ex-Arab Strap man has never been one to care too many hoots about what people think of him. So we see Moffat farting on hillsides, swearing at travel plans going awry, simulating sexual pleasure upon a toy Nessie, and being heckled by non-fans. But as his contemplative voiceover proves, Moffat is one narrator that we should happily rely on.

His wholly democratic approach results in him being perfectly comfortable in allowing his critics a vocal and visible platform: Moffat’s chief antagonist is Sheila Stewart, the late traditional-music pioneer who, in her heyday, performed for a president and a pope. By contrast, it almost feels like Moffat’s fanbase is invisible until the climactic Barrowlands gig – an inherently tense scene, as the stage is set for one last cameo from his new pal / quasi-nemesis.

Stewart’s death in the wake of filming gives Fegan’s documentary an added poignancy, as well as a sense of closure. In his narration, Moffat considers whether she cared about how people would remember her. A clash of cultures may be at the heart of Where You’re Meant to Be, but both the old and the new will always be concerned about their legacy (there are evocative clips of a younger, balladeering Stewart, as well as late-90s Arab Strap upsetting the dignitaries of Falkirk). In that respect, this funny, moving and occasionally cringeworthy viewing experience serves both Stewart and Moffat wonderfully well.

Screening on Fri 19 and Wed 24 Feb as part of the Glasgow Film Festival 2016. General release TBC.

Where You're Meant To Be

  • 4 stars
  • 2016
  • UK
  • 1h 16min
  • Directed by: Paul Fegan
  • Cast: Aidan Moffat, Sheila Stewart

A collaboration between lo-fi pop raconteur Aidan Moffat (Arab Strap) and filmmaker Paul Fegan as they tour Scotland documenting their journey.


1. Grant Donachie20 Feb 2016, 3:12pm Report

Great review.

Without spoiling too much, the film was an absolute treat to watch, plenty of laughs, comical awkward moments, sadness looking at what Sheila had been through and the old chap who lost his wife (and his reason for getting out of bed) but balanced out by touching scenes like Aiden trying to find some common musical ground with the same gent (great seeing him touched by Jenny's voice). The conclusion of the Nessie hunter was great as well.

I'll stop before I spoil any more...5 stars for the music, 4.5 for the film and 3 for the presentation of the production (the Barrowlands screen has seen better days and the sound quality from the film could have been better...it's not the sound system because the live performance at the end was fine!

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