Film Review: Northern Soul

Being a Northerner, I’ve heard many tales about Northern Soul over the years. I’ve known many people who were really into that scene and its garnered almost a cult status as the years have gone by. There seems to be a resurgence of the scene over the last couple of years around the North of England, Aptly, considering its origins, this phenomena appears to be starting again in working men’s clubs. Indeed, the movement seems to go hand in hand with the more liberal aspects of working class culture. Whilst the music stems from the Tamla Motown scene, it eschews the mainstream Motown hits in favour of the lesser-known and underground tracks.

John (Elliot James Langridge) is an unhappy youth growing up in the Northern town of Brunswick (it’s a shithole) in 1974. A loner, he’s forced to the local youth club where he meets Matt (Josh Whitehouse),who fights against the playing of popular chart hits and tries to promote a different sound: Northern Soul. The pair dream of setting up a club night and going to America to buy unknown records, but when Matt’s brother Paul (Ashley Taylor Dawson) gets send down, their plans get put on hold. That is until John meets the combustible Sean (Jack Gordon) who takes them to Wigan Casino. Whilst John tries to realise his dream of Djing with Ray Henderson (James Lance), he lusts after a nurse (Antonia Thomas) but doesn’t have the courage to talk to her.

Taking place at the peak of the Northern Soul scene, Elaine Constantine’s film manages to capture the excitement and energy of the time. This doesn’t just materialise itself in the nights out but the hunger and obsession of finding the ‘cover-ups’. There’s a nice cameo from Steve Coogan as John’s teacher Mr Banks, and the acting is good throughout. It’s an interesting film about a certain space and time which feels authentic whilst being detached from the world around it. I’m not a fan of the music, and I found that aspect a little hard when watching it in a cinema full of people who clearly were.

Northern Soul is out in cinemas now and DVD on Monday

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