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Movie Review

Spike Island

Reviewer Rating
User Rating

Director: Mat Whitecross

Starring: Elliott Tittensor, Nico Mirallegro, Jordan Murphy, Adam Long, Oliver Heald, Emilia Clarke, Chris Coghill, Matthew McNulty, Lesley Manville

Duration: 105 minutes

Certificate 15A

1 of 5 Tearaways and tenderness
Tearaways and tenderness
2 of 5 A decent coming of age drama
A decent coming of age drama
3 of 5 Boys on a mission...
Boys on a mission...
4 of 5 Watch out for Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke as the love interest
Watch out for Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke as the love interest
5 of 5 A story of friendship, family and first love
A story of friendship, family and first love

You wait decades for a Stone Roses movie, then two come along in a fortnight. And if ever a pairing should've resurrected the golden age of the cinema double bill, it was Shane Meadows' documentary ...Made of Stone and this decent coming of age drama.

For Manc teenager Gary 'Tits' Titchmarsh (Shameless' Elliott Tittensor) and his gang - Dodge, Zippy, Little Gaz and Penfold - May 27 1990 is the most important date in their lives, the day on which The Stone Roses will "define an era on the chemically polluted banks of the Mersey" with their sold-out show on Spike Island.

Naturally, like all dreamers, the lads don't have tickets, but they do have local chancer Keith Teeth on ferret duty for them. Besides, it's written in the stars for them to be there, because Spike Island is where Tits and the gang will press the demo tape of their band Shadowcaster ("the second best band in the world") into the hands of Ian Brown and co. Nothing can get in their way, except real life.

Spike Island features no fewer than nine producers on its credits list, but if there was a Titsesque struggle to get the funds together for this little film it's a shame because there are enough good things here to make you wonder why anyone wouldn't have the sense to pony up.

With a CV that includes the great Ian Dury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll and the documentaries The Shock Doctrine and The Road to Guantanamo, director Whitecross is a man well acquainted with heady rush and gritty realism; here he gets the chance to mix both, doing justice to the tearaways and tenderness of writer Chris Coghill's race-against-time script. It's a smartly cast (watch out for Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke) and beautifully soundtracked story of friendship, family and first love, during that all-too-brief time in life when regret hasn't taken up residence. You know these characters - in all likelihood you were one of them - and they're owed a debt of gratitude for the reminder about not letting things pass us by.

Do they get into the gig? Don't let the lack of hype, or indeed the title, put you off finding out.

Harry Guerin




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