Good Vibrations, directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn LeyBurn (Cherrybomb), is the story of Terry Hooley’s discovery of punk in Belfast during the 70′s. The film follows Terry or, as he will later be known, the godfather of Belfast punk. The war between the Irish Catholics and Protestants has just begun and Terry seems to be the only one not to have picked a side. Instead he preaches peace, something that will make him a target for both groups.
After nearly being kidnapped for being passive, Terry takes refuge in his record collection. That’s when the idea that will come to shape his entire future occurs, to open a record store. In Terry’s mind music is the only thing that can save the people of Belfast for music picks no sides, has no real opinion, instead it brings people together. At least it did before the violence began.
We follow Terry on his journey from peaceful neutral to the godfather of the Belfast punk scene. We see him discover Rudi and the Outcasts and their rise, fall, and eventual rise again to fame.
The opening sequence of this film was something special. It had this feel of a world far from any that we know. The visuals, the colours, the camera angles used in this sequence is reminiscent of the work done by director Wes Anderson. This effect was evident throughout the film, although not quite as much as within that opening sequence.
The interactions between Terry and his customers was fantastic. Terry having this burning passion for music, could not seem to help himself when giving advice to people on what to buy. This kind of interaction and music snobbery shown here reminds me of the characters in the film High Fidelity.
Terry Hooley was played by Richard Dormer (Game of Thrones). Richard gave an inspired performance, the range of emotions his character demanded of him, often in the same scene, would be demanding to any actor and Richard truly succeeded in capturing them all. Terry was a loud character, unpredictable in not just his emotions but his actions. Richard’s portrayal was of such high quality that you could swear you were watching Terry himself.
It is hard to comment on the rest of the actors as Richard’s performance and his character was such a memorable one that it is hard to recall anyone else being in the film.
What adds the layer of realism and reminds you, through the laughs and good times experienced when watching these live bands and listening to their music is the use of real footage. Footage from the violence on the streets, of clashes between the IRA and the police was truly humbling. It reminds you of the horrors that occurred during that time and the suffering of people caught in the cross fire.
Good Vibrations was definitely a film I enjoyed watching. Terry is a character I found myself rooting for, I was scared for him at times and felt sorry for him at others. What he did for the punk scene in Belfast was truly incredible and an inspiration to music lovers everywhere.
As Terry himself said, “When it comes to punk New York has the hair, London has the trousers but Belfast has the reason!”
Written by Oliver Willis