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SoulBoy [DVD]
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 January 2012
Soulboy is directed by Shimmy Marcus and written by Jeff Williams. It stars Martin Compston, Felicity Jones, Alfie Allen, Nichola Burley, Pat Shortt and Craig Parkinson. Music is by Len Arran and photography by Vladimir Trivic.

1974, Stoke-On-Trent, and Joe McCain (Compston) is tiring of his humdrum, repetitive life. Then one day, prompted by his work colleague Brendan (Shortt), Joe finds the gumption to seek a date with pretty hairdresser Jane Rogers (Burley). She opens up a new world to him, a burgeoning music scene in the North of England known as Northern Soul, the epicentre of which is the Casino Club in Wigan. But as Joe begins to find his identity in a blast of all night dancing and friendship, drugs, violence and matters of the heart begin to hover over him like dark clouds waiting to unload.

Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy.

It's best just to say it straight off, this is hardly a film to do Northern Soul justice. The movement itself is forming the backdrop to a very basic, run-of-the-mill, coming of age romantic tale. Which is sad, that the plot is so weak and poorly written, because the music, dancing and period awareness is joyous. But at least its heart is in the right place, as it's always charming and quite often funny before things get serious in the final third; even if a dance off sequence in said final third is unintentionally daft. From the 70s vibe of Stoke-On-Trent, with the terrace houses and the potteries buildings, to the recreation of Wigan's famous Casino Club (it sadly burnt down in 1981), Marcus and his team really have an eye for period milieu (impressive given Marcus is a born and bred Dubliner). Shaggy hair cuts, platform shoes, tank-tops and Brut 33 aftershave, all keep us firmly in the time of setting, while vintage vehicles, although in short supply because of the small budget, also give the film that vital 70s edge.

Tainted Love.

Performances are mixed, but lead lad Compston (Red Road) does a grand job of conveying a 17 year old guy in limbo. With a killer smile and a good helping of dexterity for the dance sequences, he's engaging and provides a characterisation that's easy to get on side with and follow through to the end. Burley (Donkey Punch) is under written in what is meant to be one of the main parts, but this does allow the lovely Felicity Jones (Cemetery Junction) to shine through and bounce of off Compston's energy to great effect. Parkinson (Control) is badly miscast as dance floor bully Alan, while a fledgling romance between Jo Hartley (This is England) and Pat Shortt (Garage) doesn't offer much to the plot, which is a shame since both are more than capable actors. Vladimir Trivic's photography leans more to grime than glitz, which actually serves the film well, sort of paying homage to the working class roots of the main players. The sound track, picked by the likes of Paul Weller, is excellent.

It's not all it can be, mainly because plotting and writing is too weak. But it has great moments of levity and vitality (watching those kids dance is a real treat), to ensure it's enjoyable and never dull. 7/10
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on 18 October 2017
Good film is you bear in mind this is a love triangle story set against the background of the Northern Soul scene and not about Northern Soul itself. It does show the love of the dance, the working class kids who followed it and indicate the use of drugs in the scene without over-doing it, but the dance-off scene between Joe and Alan for ownership of the floor is a bit of an embarrassment. If you want a film about the scene itself, better look for the film 'Northern Soul'.
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on 10 August 2013
A really great film, well cast, well acted and with a terrific sound track although Double Cooking by the Checkerboard Squares is not on the album but is in the film. I was too young to be part of the northern soul movement at its peak although I loved the music then and now and I adolised the dancers (my older sister briefly dated one at one stage) and having this film is the closest I am likely to get to knowing what it was really like to be part of the Northern "in crowd" at the legendary Wigan Casino. Martin Compston actually learnt the northern beat and all the dancing that features him IS him, so well done kid, you did good. There are a few questionable bits in the film (ie if caught with anphetamines (speed) then why was there no formal arrest or charge made against the club and the dealer especially when someone has collapsed supposedly after taking them)? but my complaints are really few and far between. With a bigger budget (perhaps it needed a northern WHO equivalent with a big bank account to inject some serious lucre into it) this would have been phenominal, as it is, its a very very good film if you have never seen or just want to enjoy watching the amazing dancing that IS Northern Soul, and/or you want to chill and not have to work brain overtime to folllow it. I do really love this film and because I love it, I shall closely guard it as one of my very special purchases, not to be lent to anyone. I urge anyone who buys it to seriously consider doing the same.
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on 4 March 2017
Good try at a northern soul based story but fell short with the Ice Cream Van, Purple Onion and "Dying Fly" and the dance off was a low point . Felicity Jones was great as the art school chick who falls for Martin Compston's character. Even if he fancied the local hairdresser at first.
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on 4 November 2014
I love this film, it makes me feel like shaking my talc on the floor and joining in! The music is great, the story a bit weak and slightly predictable. And I am no Northern-Souler so dont know how authentic it is, but the original footage is great and watching the fantastically FIT Martin Compston is a treat to behold! Full of energy, I will now have to buy its competitor 'Northern Soul' to compare and contrast, though I would imagine a lot of the footage has been used in that film too.
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on 3 May 2015
After watching the film Northern Soul, I wanted to see this. It is no where near as good as the other film. Not enough emphasis on the music and the dance off at the end was just embarrassing. Too much going on for 80 minutes. Should've kept it simpler or made it a bit longer. Felt rushed.
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on 12 January 2014
ALTHOUGH STORY LINE IS LIMITED IT DEPICS THE PASSION BEHIND THE NORTHERN SOUL CULT THE CHOONS AND THE DANCING CERTAINLY IGNITE A FLAME OF NOSTALGIA FOR THOSE WHO WERE THERE THE FIRST TIME ROUND OR LIKE ME PART OF THE 80S REVIVALIST IN 82 - 85... iF THE YOUNGSTER ARE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT WHERE RECORD WERENT A DISPOSIBLE MEDIA AND A TIME WHEN CLOTHES DANCING AND BEING PART OF A CULT MEANT SOMETHIN THIS IS FOR YOU. .. RAY STEEL...
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on 16 November 2014
Purchased this as a recommendation after purchasing Northern Soul Movie. Fantastic story line, the research that went into the Northern Soul scene by the production team is amazing. Was very disappointed that I never discovered this movie before purchasing Northern Soul Movie as I could've saved myself some money. Very pleased with this purchase and the content of the movie. Got itchy feet watching this movie as I wanted to get up and dance around my Sitting room. A very good reflection on the Northern Soul scene in the 70,s. If you love the scene, purchase this you'll not be disappointed. KTF.
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on 6 February 2011
This is a nice boy meets girl film about life in late 70's Britain. For anyone who was "on the scene" at the time this is a nostalgia-fest, the soundtrack is faultless, the dancing is mostly spot on, the mens clothes are perfect but some of the girls outfits didn't seem quite right to me, as in, they're not what I remember, although I'm sure the makers made it as authentic as possible. Most importantly though, for those of us for whom Wigan Casino was the centre of the Northern Soul universe, this is probably as close as we are ever going to get to seeing those nights recreated on screen. Keep the faith!
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on 15 July 2017
I love it, I was there, just before the end of Wiggan. Some mates of mine hated it, but It was like my experience!
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