BY PETER McGORAN
“I knew there were other people like us, they’d just fallen in-between the cracks.” So Terri Hooley takes us on a tour of 1970s Belfast like you’ve never seen it before. The radical, eccentric music-lover risks home and family to open up a record shop on the most bombed street in Europe and contends with police and paramilitary forces to keep it alive. He becomes the “The Godfather” of the Belfast punk scene when he manages to carry The Undertones to international fame. The rock-movie genre is a familiar one these days, but the setting is entirely unique. At a time when car bombs were the status quo and the British Army and paramilitaries occupied the streets of Belfast, directors Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Layburn, along with writers Glenn Patterson and Colin Carberry, manage to do the unthinkable – give us an actual feel-good movie from the era.
And it’s fantastic. I was smiling from start to finish at the fact that a group of independent film-makers had me brimming with pride in Belfast and had made its accent seem almost attractive (we’ll say nothing about The Undertones’ Derry accent). The script is hilarious and leading man Richard Dormer’s portrayal of the larger-than-life Hooley is only to be admired.
Finally, we have something that sheds a positive light on Belfast. A movie that in no way neglects or diminishes ‘the troubles’ but shows how the music transcended and railed against the bitterness and bigotry of its time. Don’t get carried away with how much of the story is true to real life; the movie is not a faithful documentary of Hooley’s life but is an attempt to capture the uplifting atmosphere of resistance from which Hooley became the figurehead of a generation. Go see the movie. Get the soundtrack. Then go see it again. You won’t be disappointed.