Directed by husband-and-wife team Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn, Good Vibrations tells the powerful and infectious story of music legend Terri Hooley, who brought punk to the fore in Belfast in the 1970s.
It’s a high-octane, irrepressible account of this moment in time that is held together by a powerhouse performance from fantastic Northern Irish actor Richard Dormer as ‘The Godfather of Belfast Punk’ Terri.
As a DJ in the 60s, Terri played reggae to packed pubs in Belfast, but as the Troubles worsened, he was spinning records to an empty room. While his former friends took up arms in the conflict, he decided to open a record shop, Good Vibrations, on the most bombed half-mile in Europe. Through the store, he discovered punk and saw the music as a refreshing escape to the murder and oppression all around him. An eye-opening and euphoric experience at a gig led to Terri releasing Good Vibrations’ first 7” single, Big Time by Rudi.
It wasn’t long before other young acts began hounding him to release their tunes, but it was Derry band The Undertones who really made an impact. The group broke onto the music scene when BBC legend John Peel made history by playing their generation-defining track Teenage Kicks twice in a row on his Radio 1 show.
While there are highs such as these, there are lows too, and Good Vibrations doesn't shy away from showing Terri's less favourable side - his struggle with drink, the neglect of his pregnant young wife and getting swept away from his newborn baby with his band of punk-rock followers.
Much of the film’s charm lies in Dormer’s charismatic performance as the blindingly optimistic protagonist, and the warmth and enthusiasm he brings to the role elevates it beyond a simple rock ‘n’ roll tale. The excellent supporting cast includes Love/Hate's Killian Scott as the peroxide blonde lead singer of Rudi; Dylan Moran as a cynical bar owner and Jodie Whittaker as Terri's long-suffering wife Ruth.
Although it's set against the backdrop of The Troubles, which are brought to life on screen with archival footage, Good Vibrations is an uplifting, inspiring story that is sure to appeal to fans of punk, and make heaps of converts along the way.
About as feelgood as they come, Good Vibrations is almost guaranteed to have you leaving the cinema with a crazed grin on your face and the chords to Teenage Kicks ringing in your mind.