You Instead – Review

At a musical festival two rock stars in the middle of an argument are handcuffed together by a mysterious man. Adam (Luke Treadaway) is the lead singer for a popular group while Morello (Natalia Tena) fronts a much newer band, now forced to perform their most important gig yet with an extra rock star in tow.

All other considerations aside this is a feat of film-making. Filmed over five days at last year’s T in the Park, film-makers had to contend with crowds, mud and all the complications a live music event brings with it. Any limitations this may have put on the production work in the film’s favour, the improvised dialogue and endless moments captured by chance lend the film a free-wheeling and natural feel. For a film where music is king the atmosphere this creates is indispensable, the joy of live music is the rough edges and all the edges are rough in this film.

Treadaway and Tena make for good leads, both likeable and convincing as the rock stars they’re portraying, and after her short shrift in the Harry Potter films it’s good to see Tena get a fully fledged character to play. The rest of the cast are perfectly suited to their roles and the T in the Park crowd make for the most convincing extras you’ll see in 2011.

With plenty of footage of live music, a great atmosphere and convincing cast it’s hard for the film to fail, the only aspect letting the side down is the plot. With this being billed as a romantic comedy I hope it isn’t spoiling things to suggest the two cuffed singers fall for one other. Sadly both Morello and Adam are both in relationships when the film begins, Adam to a vapid model (Ruta Gedmintas) but Morello to a perfectly nice guy played by Alastair Mackenzie (Monarch of the Glen‘s very own monarch and not the only Glen cast member in attendance).

It is the breakdown of these relationships and the blossoming of Adam and Morello’s that are not quite convincing. With the whole film spanning a couple of days the emotions seem a little irrational and characters just go along with the plot without complaint simply to make things easier. The plot failings are nicely hidden by the bells and whistles of the festival, but a few characters still feel painfully crowbarred in to soften the blow for any jilted lovers.

You Instead is like a good pop song, the emotions are all over the place and there’s no complex plot but it has a great atmosphere, is moving and exhilarating and you can’t help but get swept along.

You Instead is in cinemas 16th September 2011.

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