NORTHERN SOUL is a fab British independent film from writer-director Elaine Constantine that captures something of the manic absurdity of the 1970s provincial British Northern Soul clubbing movement. This basically consisted of working class kids in unlikely places like Wigan and Wolverhampton getting revved up on speed and dancing all night to high tempo B-sides of obscure American soul records from the 1960s. Being a movement that entirely bypassed London, it's not had as much coverage or recognition as it probably should've done, but that's been redressed over the past couple of years with a great documentary (KEEP ON BURNING: THE STORY OF NORTHERN SOUL) and now this fictionalised retelling.
The film focusses on two kids in a miserable town who escape into the world of Northern Soul - first attending dancehalls but then trying to put on events of their own - only to find that after a temporary respite it brings with its own problems: the drugs, the police, the perils of trying to party all night and still hold down a job. But along the way the things that they want out of life - the narrow scope of their beaten-up ambition - is touching - when all of life is concentrated in wishing for a wooden dance floor rather than concrete.
The cast is amazing. Lisa Stansfield as the mum in curlers and a headscarf and Christian McKay as the dad with horn-rimmed specs; Steve Coogan as the vain schoolteacher with a bowl cut and sideburns. The costumes and sets, the sweaty stripped bodies on the dance floor, are absolutely authentic. And for the first time ever, a training montage isn't a complete waste of time - when we see the kids try out their dance moves to this fantastic music you just don't want it to stop!
NORTHERN SOUL has a running time of 102 minutes and is rated 15 for strong language, drug use and sex. It is currently on release in the UK.