5.5 out of 10

Release Date: 29th March 2013

British / Irish Co-Production

Director: Glenn Leyburn & Lisa Barros-D’Sa (Cherrybomb)

Cast: Richard Dormer, Jodie Whittaker, Michael Colgan, Liam Cunningham, David Wilmot, Karl Johnson, Ruth McCabe, Mark Ryder, Kerr Logan, Killian Scott, Diarmuid Noyes with Adrian Dunbar and Dylan Moran

Writer: Collin Carberry and Glenn Patterson


The thing that separates biopics from real life is that films give the illusion that life is predictable in the main. In general, they’ll follow a birth to death structure or focus on their protaganist’s most interesting period.  Good Vibrations follows the latter to the letter. In that the subject of Good Vibrations‘ life is so weird sets this on firm ground and originality and flashiness in biopics usually only serves to distance the audience.  Here a pedestrian approach works to the film’s favour. To the subject at it’s heart then.

Good Vibrations tells the story of early 70s Belfast club DJ, Terri Hooley who only dreams to play his reggae 45s to an increasingly dangerous and volatile audience. Belfast at the time was being torn apart by the sectarian troubles between the Catholics and Protestants, so the last thing on anyone’s mind was to go out dancing.  Paying off local IRA and loyalist hoods with a couple of Chas and Dave records, Hooley flies in the face of convention and re-mortgages his house to open a record shop on Bombscare Alley.  To everyone’s shock the shop flourishes and he goes on to start a fledgling record label to showcase up and coming punk bands, unwittingly signing The Undertones who promptly recorded the anthem “Teenage Kicks” – a John Peel fave.  Inspite of having no business acumen and no savvy out of Belfast, he champions the new sound at the expense of his wife’s patience and his stretched bank balance.  This is the story of a famous Belfast treasure, who’s record shop is still open to this day.

Played by Richard Dormer (GAME OF THRONES) with a fevered verve usually only seen in ‘disease of the week’ movies, the rest of proceedings follow suit in his infectious pursuit for the song to shine a spotlight on the talented youth of his troubled city. He is given solid support from Jodie Whittaker (ATTACK ON THE BLOCK) as his put-upon but besotted wife.  She puts depth into the ‘standard’ good-wife role. Elsewhere, Northern Irish stalwarts like Liam Cunningham (THE TOURNAMENT), David Wilmott (THE GUARD), Adrian Dunbar (MOTHER’S MILK) and Dylan Moran (BLACK BOOKS) turn up as friends, recording engineers and bar managers.

There’s not an awful lot to report except to say it’s solid. It’s enjoyable but not life changing. In this day and age it’s a pleasure to see such a competent and unfussy movie. The directors have previously given us a good performance from Rupert (Ron Weasley) Grint in their debut Cherrybomb so we’re in for good things from them I think. The soundtrack is obviously a mention with Alternative Ulster being blasted out in the films regular but necessary montages. Rudi and The Outcasts are well represented and their shared career trajectory with Hooley given more than lip service here.  Richard Dormer’s rendition of Sonny Bono’s “Don’t Laugh At Me!” is a great pay-off come the end of the movie. The film ends on a great high note and will have you digging for these records for your collection no doubt. It’s a shame that’s there’s no accompanying LP / CD for Good Vibrations because the music itself really really invites reflection.

5.5 out of 10 – Average telling one of  Northern Ireland’s national treasure’s life stories.  It’s completely elevated by Richard Dormer as Terri Hooley and of course the life story tells itself and the telling is infectious. Enjoyable but average execution.


  • Richard Dormer: Fortitude (TV), Shooting For Socrates, Hyena, ’71, Game Of Thrones (TV)
  • Jodie Whittaker: Broadchurch (TV), Hello Carter, Black Sea, Ashes, Spike IslandAttack The BlockOne Day, The Kid (2010), St. Trinians, Venus
  • Michael Colgan: This Is Not a Love Song
  • Liam Cunningham: Pursuit (2016), Noble, Let Us Prey, Game of Thrones (TV), Dr Who (TV), The Numbers Station, Safe House, War Horse, The Guard, Centurion, Clash Of The Titans (201o), Harry Brown, Perrier’s Bounty, The Tournament, Blood- The Last Vampire, The Mummy 3, Hunger, The Escapist, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, The League Of Gentleman’s Apocalypse, Dog Soldiers, Jude, War Of The Buttons, A Little Princess, First Knight
  • David Wilmot: The Food Guide To Love, ’71, GoldCalvaryShadow Dancer, Anna Karenina (2012)Parked, The Guard, Intermission, I Went Down
  • Karl Johnson: Mr Turner, The Sea, The Deep Blue Sea (2011),  Third Star, Hot Fuzz, Close My Eyes, Edge Of Love, Pure, Wittgenstein, Let Him Have It, Prick Up Your Ears, The Tempest (1979), Jubilee
  • Ruth McCabe: Run & JumpPhilomenaWake Wood, Breakfast On Pluto, Inside I’m Dancing, Intermission, The Closer You Get, Titanic Town, An Awfully Big Adventure, Circle Of Friends, The Snapper, My Left Foot
  • Mark Ryder: Borgia (TV)
  • Kerr Logan: Game Of Thrones (TV)
  • Diarmuid Noyes: Roadkill (2015), Borgia (TV), Killing BonoParked
  • Killian Scott: ’71, Calvary
  • Adrian Dunbar: Mother’s Milk, Shooters, Wild About Harry, The Wedding Tackle, The General (1998), Richard III (1995), The Near Room, Innocent Lies, Widow’s Peak, The Crying Game, The Playboys, Hear My Song, My Left Foot
  • Dylan Moran: Calvary, The Decoy Bride, Run Fatboy Run, Shaun Of The Dead, Black Books (TV), The Actors, Notting Hill

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