In 70s Belfast, at the height of the Troubles, smalltime DJ Terri Hooley (Dormer) decides to remortgage his house and open up a record shop in the city centre.
Outside Belfast, Terri Hooley is just a name, but back home in Northern Ireland he is definitely a character: an entrepreneur whose passion and flair for music is matched only by his impracticality and ineptitude in his chosen line of business. Indeed, it is a measure of the former that the only UK chart hit he ever had — The Undertones’ anthemic Teenage Kicks — is still a classic. And it is a sad reminder of the latter that he sold the rights for £500 plus a signed photo of ’60s girl band The Shangri-Las. But only ever got the cash.
Most of Hooley’s bands never made it, so why celebrate failure? The point of Good Vibrations, the name of Hooley’s record shop and label, as it is with any decent rock movie, is that it is not simply about one man’s rise and fall, but about the other things Hooley achieved. For one thing, it is a story of hope: his story plays out against the backdrop of a city torn apart by sectarian violence, but never once do we see him cowed by it. And for another, it is a film about unity, how Hooley’s label did what no politician could ever do, giving the city’s youth
a sense of place and community far beyond geography and religion.
Key to this is Richard Dormer’s electric performance as Hooley,
a charmer and a rogue who even in this somewhat laudatory version would hardly be a shoo-in for any Husband Of The Year contests. This is very much a shaggy-dog story, with even its gleefully unreliable narrator casting us the odd conspiratorial wink.
Quite how much Hooley contributed to the approaching peace process is debatable, and much of his label’s output hasn’t stood the test of time, but as this joyous romp shows, Hooley’s blind commitment rubbed off in unexpected and spectacular ways. The message? Sometimes great things do come from living in the now.
A rousing tale of rock n roll rebellion that shows how one mans black-vinyl passions ended up socking it to The Man.