Set in Lancashire in 1974, we follow the life of John Clark, (played with an exceptional conviction by newcomer Elliot James Langridge) as he becomes fervently embroiled in the slowly increasing northern soul movement, after befriending enthusiast Matt (Josh Whitehouse). John hadn’t ever belonged to anything before, but now, with Matt, Sean (Jack Gordon) and his crush, Angela (Antonia Thomas) – he feels part of something special, pursuing his dreams of becoming a DJ to rival his hero Ray Henderson (James Lance).
It’s impossible not to get a sense for that vigour, that blissful vehemence that comes with discovering new music at such an impressionable age, capturing a similar feeling of nostalgia to what was achieved in Northern Irish drama Good Vibrations last year. It takes you back to that time and place in your life; the gigs and the unashamed worshipping of the artists, the bus rides homes, the after parties – that sensation where you feel like life will never get better than this. Through John’s journey we’re able to reminisce ourselves, and it doesn’t have to be the northern soul scene, just that feeling when you become a part of a community, with music the driving force that brings people together.
Constantine never loses the gritty undertone that exists throughout either, as the kitchen sink approach remains prevalent. The director must be commended for juggling all the different themes and cinematic styles so efficiently, hitting every single note to perfection. The leading, coming-of-age theme is complimented masterfully by the education of the music itself, while the romantic angle is well-judged, and the volatility and adulation between John and Matt is also crafted in a naturalistic fashion. Langridge shines in the leading role too, and we completely abide by his transformation, as he’s as believable when a loner, as he is when pioneering the underground music scene.
Just to top it all off, the soundtrack is incredible. So while watching on, grinning from ear to ear, be sure to also take a pen and paper along with you and start writing down song titles. Though when you go home and google the lyrics and download the tunes, remember how lucky you are – because in Northern Soul, our protagonists were limited to word of mouth, and hoping to catch rare tracks at car boot sales, or having to fork out a trip to America just to go shopping. Though in a sense, it’s that zeal and unfaltering persistence that makes the characters – and this film – so special.
Oh, and just to top it off – Steve Coogan’s got a small role in this as well, in case you weren’t convinced enough already.