Good Vibrations might not be on your radar yet, but it should be. An independently distributed film, it is not being widely shown but I urge you to seek it out. Funny, moving and a punk-rock frenzy, Good Vibrations is already hitting my best films of 2013 list.
Based on the memories of Terri Hooley, the godfather of the Belfast punk scene, Good Vibrations is a riot, pure and simple. At the height of ‘The Troubles’ Hooley was determined not to let go of the belief that music was the ultimate uniting force. Opening a record shop in central Belfast was his way of keeping the dream alive and sticking two fingers up to the world that wanted him to choose a side. On discovering Belfast’s flourishing punk scene, Hooley takes it upon himself to help these kids get heard, recording and releasing singles on the cheap, gigging around the country and pitching them to record execs. He glimpses fame when he helps to launch The Undertones, but struggles to keep family life and his finances balanced with his punk-rock lifestyle.
Good Vibrations fizzes with the energy of youth, anger and rebellion. Richard Dormer is perfect as Hooley, demonstrating the charisma and humour that got him through insane decisions and wanton acts of self-sabotage. The scene in which Hooley gives in to the sheer un-adulterated joy of discovering a band in a grimy, sweaty underground club is magical and you feel every note with him (even if you’re not a punk yourself). Good Vibrations is a reminder of the power of music and the unparalleled feeling of sticking it to the man.For me, the film can be summed up when Hooley poses the immortal question:
“What about your rock ‘n’ roll soul? How’re you going to feed that?” Amen to that, Terri.