When deciding whether or not to see You Instead you first have to decide if you are a movie fan, or a music fan. If you’re a movie fan then this will not appeal to you in the least, as a music fan however, particularly a music festival fan, you might just love it. If you happen to be in the unfortunate position of being both a movie and a music fan, then, flip a coin?
This contrast is seen right from the off as fictional two man band The Make are driven through the grounds at Scotland’s T in the Park while playing an acoustic version of their apparent smash hit You Instead. The song is pleasant enough, but then the band get out of the car and engage in a horribly awkward and weakly acted scene with smaller band The Dirty Pinks.
There is a lot of improv at work in this film, necessitated by the extremely tight shooting schedule which saw the entire film shot in just four days during last year’s T in the Park. The opening scene shows the actors still very uncomfortable with each other and their parts. The Make’s lead singer Adam (Treadaway) gets into an argument with The Dirty Pinks' lead singer Morello (Tena). Then an odd old man comes along and handcuffs them together before disappearing in a golf cart, leaving Adam and Morello stuck with each other to experience the festival.
You Instead is a bit of a rom-com so naturally the feuding couple begin to fall for each other, and this is where the movie falls down. Every possible cliché is mined as the couple overcome all odds, it’s almost as if they’re working through a checklist of things couples go through in movies. Rushing through all obstacles in such a short time frame however, leaves the impression of two incredibly fickle characters who make major decisions on a whim, so we could never possibly believe this couple will stay together, no matter how grandiose their eventual connection may be nor how cringe-inducing a speech Adam manages to come out with.
These are the movie failings however, as a music festival experience, You Instead does eventually find its feet. The actors grow more comfortable in their roles so they do begin to seem more natural; Tena becoming comfortable as the local musician experiencing a break while Treadaway starts to sneak in just the right amount of rock star affectations. It’s difficult to get past the initial bad impression of the acting but if you do manage to set it aside you can watch as they simply experience the festival, and everything it has to offer; music, lights, cheap refreshments and carnival attractions, mud-wrestling, random hook-ups, drunken foolishness and minor heartbreak. The film manages to capture a lot of the fun of a music festival while breezing past the more miserable elements such as losing friends with no phone batteries, uncomfortable tents, inescapable hangovers and still being covered in freezing mud 24 hours later.
The selection of music on display is excellent and even the songs composed for the film are of a high standard (I’ve been listening to the title track all week). You Instead is slightly less than a movie but more than a concert film, it will find a place in many music lovers’ DVD collections and might just attract a decent cinema audience too from people trying to hold on to some of their Electric Picnic experience, though it could have done with being released a week or so earlier to really maximise on that potential.