SoulBoy (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner01/09/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 83 mins

Likeable British coming-of-age drama with terrific performances, impressive production design and a superb soundtrack, but the script and direction falter in places and it doesn't quite pull off its key emotional scenes.

What's it all about?
Directed by Shimmy Marcus, SoulBoy is set in 1970s Stoke-on-Trent and stars Martin Compston as Joe, an assistant deliveryman who spends his evenings in crappy local pub nightclub The Onion with his idiotic best friend Russ (Alfie Allen, giving the same performance he always gives). However, no one in The Onion appreciates Joe's somewhat individualistic dance moves and when he hears about the burgeoning Northern Soul scene in the Wigan Casino nightclub he's persuaded to check it out, not least because he's smitten with haughty hairdresser and Casino regular Jane (Nichola Burley).

However, he soon discovers that Jane is a) going out with dancefloor king (and utter bastard) Alan (Craig Parkinson) and b) has her own special space at the front that only the best movers get to dance in. Realising that he has to learn the Northern Soul dance styles if he's going to have a chance with Jane, Joe turns to kindly Mandy (Felicity Jones) to teach him the moves, unaware that she has a huge crush on him.

The Good
Martin Compston is excellent as Joe and it makes a nice change to hear him speaking in a non-impenetrable accent for once – also, his dance moves are... achievable (i.e. slightly rubbish), which is both amusing and slightly offbeat. Jones and Burley are equally good and there's strong support from Garage's Pat Shortt (as Joe's boss) and the always excellent but still little-known Craig Parkinson (who looks like a cut-price Paddy Considine).

The film's biggest strength is in the ‘70s period detail and the depiction of the Northern Soul scene, complete with buses to Wigan from all over the country and a strange uniform involving singlets and Adidas bags.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the film also has its fair share of problems - for one thing, Alfie Allen's character disappears after a fairly crucial plot detail and that entire sub-plot is left unresolved. Similarly, the climax is poorly directed and fails to convince, both dramatically and emotionally.

Worth seeing?
SoulBoy is an enjoyable British drama with strong performances and a superb soundtrack, but it doesn't quite have the moves to pull off the final emotional flourish.

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Content updated: 18/10/2017 23:10

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