October 27, 2014
As half-formed and full on as a teenage romance, Northern Soul may prematurely ejaculate when it comes to its plot, but it’s endearing enthusiasm for its subject makes it an enjoyable, if forgettable, watch.
Two teenagers meet and bond over the thrilling beats of rare Northern Soul records, the poetry of the lyrics and tempo of the anthems fuelling their dreams of escape from a ho-hum Lancaster life to the record bins of the good old US of A. There they hope to find the record that will turn them into the superstar DJs, making dance floors come alive with the rarities at their fingertips.
Well styled, and well acted, it’s a bit like Judy Bloom on Amphetamines, taking comfort in its recreation of teenage discos, teenage kicks and teenage let downs, as parents and practicalities get in the way of said dream coming true.
School life is cast aside for factory life, drink for drugs, one friend for another in a story that’s as wispy as bum fluff and equally as amusing.
Sure its contrived in its construction and the main players -Ricky Tomilson, Steve Coogan and Lisa Stansfield , all disappear at the point the budget ran out, but I was still enamoured with this coming of age story in spite of a silly crime caper sub plot that takes us away from the dance floor, where this movie should remain, always, calling for one more song.
What director Elaine Constantine has captured,beautifully, is that Northern Soul wasn’t just about music. It was about dancing. It was about release, acceptance and escape. Her recreation of the infamous Wigan Casino, the stunning, sweat slicked choreography and the unreal sensation of an unfamiliar song sliding serotonin up your spine, makes much of its very real and very prominent flaws excusable.