REVIEW by Joe Pesci II below

Release Date: 16th September 2011

Director: David Mackenzie (Starred Up / Perfect Sense / Hallam Foe / The Asylum / Young Adam)

Cast: Luke Treadaway, Natalia Tena, Mathew Baynton, Gavin Mitchell, Ruta Gedmintas, Alistair Mackenzie, Sophie Wu, Cora Bissett and Joseph Mydell

Writer: David Mackenzie & Cast


Read Joe Pesci II’s review below.



One thought on “YOU INSTEAD

  1. YOU INSTEAD by Joe Pesci II aka Matt Usher

    Teens in trouble! Who’d have thought it? Well, OK, they’re not teenagers, and no-one is chasing after them with a sawn-off battle-axe, but it’s still a film about some young people getting into a bit of a scrape and running about and YOU INSTEAD turns out to be an unexpectedly pleasant film. (I suspect ‘unexpectedly pleasant’ may not be the quote they might have hoped for, but there are better words to come.)

    But who are these non-teens? What sort of trouble are they in? And why isn’t anyone chasing them with a rusty hacksaw even though this is supposed to be a low-budget British movie? And how on earth did any film get landed with a title as lame and unmemorable as YOU INSTEAD?

    YOU INSTEAD is basically an addition to the little known genre not known as ‘films about dumb things happening to people on holiday’. (There’s more of them than you might think: SUMMER HOLIDAY, the NATIONAL LAMPOON series, WITHNAIL AND I, CARRY ON CRUISING / CAMPING / BEHIND / ABROAD, DELIVERANCE). (YOU INSTEAD is probably more WITHNAIL than DELIVERANCE)

    Apparently there is a festival of popular music, ironically known as ‘T in the Park’ (I don’t know what the T stands for – I expect it’s something to do with drugs), at which the youth of the day gather for their various amusements. This is the setting for this surprisingly good indie Britpic. The premise is thinner than a wafer, thinner than paint thinner, thinner than a really stick thin model, thinner than the thinnest thing ever: two musicians, both due to perform at the festival (which appears to take place in a park in Scotland), have met in improbable circumstances (she has attempted to upend his car for reasons I cannot recall) and immediately started bickering; out of nowhere pops up a chap who handcuffs them together, then vanishes. Our protagonists (a boy and a girl) now shackled together, well I’m sure you can guess how it all pans out. But don’t go away yet!

    Seemingly filmed across the few days of the gig / concert / event / festival / orgy / feast of excessive Scottishness (delete as culturally appropriate), YOU INSTEAD is quite funny and full of believably dumb, likeable, dislikeable, pathetic characters, almost like real people. The situation is improbable and plays out improbably. And the title is terrible. And the ending never in doubt. And the comedy drunk manager was tiresome, and then there’s a nerdy sidekick. Actually almost all the ingredients of YOU INSTEAD point to it being an utterly insipid noodling doodle with nothing to say. And yet, in its own extremely modest way, these ingredients somehow cohere into a really rather unexpectedly good film. There are a few ingredients I haven’t mentioned though. Luke Treadaway, currently on the cusp between Britpic juvenile lead and proper star, plays the more established rock star, and he’s American and wears sunglasses all the way through. He is agreeably obnoxious, as is Natalia Tena as his nemesis / next girlfriend. The situations they endure aren’t particularly unusual, there is little that is unpredictable, but that all somehow manages to add to the charm of the film. Yes, it’s a moderately charming little film, and that’s a good thing.

    Other good things: the supporting players (particularly Mat Baynton as nerdy sidekick and Gavin Mitchell as a much inebriated manager) are fun, and there’s a brilliant idea for a new charity (bribe a senator / give money to politicians). But it’s possibly the sense of controlled chaos, the on the hoof camerawork, the way the film-makers make it look like a documentary without pretending it’s a documentary. The musical acts are well chosen (did they know they were providing a film soundtrack?) and it never descends to the tedious level of pop music montage. The music is integrated thoughtfully, and Tainted Love isn’t ruined, so all is well.

    YOU INSTEAD doesn’t pretend to be anything more than an enjoyably anarchic festival film. It may have some very old-fashioned messages, and nothing much happens, and there probably ought to have been a lot more mud (maybe there’s less mud in Scotland? I don’t know), but it’s sweet and charming and nice, and just the type of film you’d bring home to meet the parents, which might be why no-one’s ever seen it, but it should be a lot better known than it is. If only it had a better title, and if only the phantom handcuffer had just a teensy bit more motivation then this would have been a slightly better film, but it’s to be enjoyed for what it is, and that is a rough and ready semi-improvised bit of fluffy entertainment which might just turn out to be something of a cult one day.

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