MFR Rating: ★ ★
With the release date a few weeks following the main summer festival season, You Instead misses the mark in more ways than one. It’s a film that fails to quite hit the mark and instead just feels incredibly mundane.
It never feels like a musical and it never quite feels like a mockumentary, despite being full of festival shots and impromptu performances and Director David MacKenzie’s best efforts to capture a fly-on-the wall feel to the film. Unlike 2006’s fabulous Once, which perfectly crafts its characters’ love of music into a sweet and melancholy romance with the music tying both characters together, You Instead just has both characters tied together, literally, without any feeling of connection between them.
The film begins with rockstars Adam (Luke Treadaway) and Morello (Natalia Tena or Tonks from Harry Potter) being bizarrely and randomly handcuffed together, much to both of their annoyances. In terms of plot, well they need to get out of the handcuffs, obviously. Inevitably, this may allow some sort of unconvincing romance to blossom, not helped by neither character feeling particularly likeable or interesting. The entire film feels incredibly pedestrian, which isn’t too impressive for a film that clocks in at a very tight 80 minutes. It feels like it drags on for much longer and the script is quite simply, very dull. It tries to feel rather quirky but just looks a little lost.
You Instead was given just a 5 day window to shoot, taking place in the midst of Scotland’s T in the Park festival. Often with low budget indie films, a strict deadline gets the best out of both cast and crew but you’ve got to feel maybe 5 days was just too strict. It all feels very rough around the edges in terms of performances and direction. But it’s the script that’s particularly bothering as nothing really seems to happen. It feels like someone might have forgotten their wellies.
You would at least hope T in the Park have covered part of the film’s funding because it works perfectly well as an 80 minute advertisement for the festival. The film itself fails to feel endearing or romantic. A bit less wild, open air festival and a little more intimate, heartfelt attachment, please. A script with some laughs and an actual plot would be nice too.
You Instead is out on 16th September in the UK. Running time: 80 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).
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Review by David Rank