The Establishing Shot: You Instead Review

Thursday, September 01, 2011 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

You InsteadBefore going in to see You Instead I knew very little about it. I kind of half heartedly watched the trailer, and too be honest it didn’t really sell me on the film, I think the guerrilla style camera work and poster put me off a little bit and I immediately thought I knew how it would play it.

But I was interested from a technical viewpoint to see what the filmmakers came up with shooting on site at the T in the Park Music Festival over five days and I'm always happy to be surprised.

T in the Park
T in the Park is a major British music festival that has been held annually since 1994… held at a disused airfield in Balado, near Kinross in Perth and Kinross. T in the Park … takes place over three days. - From Wiki

I missed the first couple of minutes of the film and arrived as the titles were flashing up, so may have missed some establishing stuff. But pretty quickly the scene was set for me. A successful US headlining techno rock male duo called The Make have had some sort of minor automobile skirmish with The Dirty Pinks an alternative girl band whilst on the road to T in the Park - where they are both playing. The local girl band The Dirty Pinks headed up by Morello (Natalia Tena) catch up with The Make’s Lead singer Adam (Luke Treadaway) and keyboardist Tyko (Mathew Baynton) and after some words Morello and Adam end up being handcuffed together.

You Instead

I didn't know any of this going into You Instead but it is apparent if you watch the trailer so I don’t think I’m giving anything away. But this is basically the premise for the remainder of the opposites attract story which takes place over 2 days at T in the Park as Morello and Adam are seemingly forced into getting to know each other over .

I have to say I really enjoyed You Instead - having said that I had no idea it was actually a romantic tale. Given the guerrilla style of the trailer and the setting I was expecting a film with dark undertones that bordered on want to be Trainspotting territory. For most of the film I was waiting for the inevitable tragic drug overdose or unexpected lashings of random violence that seems to pervade British cinema but You Instead is not that kind of film, it is an unexpected light hearted and up beat romance tale set to the back drop of the muddy festival atmosphere.

It has many elements in common with great recent Brit Rom Coms such as Four Weddings and Notting Hill, such as:

Charismatic cross continental lead characters Adam (Luke Treadaway) and Morello (Natalia Tena) with under dog qualities and loads of chemistry to their relationship. If I was to be completely honest I didn't actually recognise Luke Treadaway from Attack The Block and thought he was a vaguely familiar American actor with a musical background, which is testament to how well he pulls the character off. And I’m in no way trying to denigrate Tena’s energetic performance - it’s just that I know who she is from the Harry Potter series.

You Instead
Adam is one half of successful California electro-pop duo The Make, headlining the main stage on Saturday night at T in the Park. As well as band mate and best friend Tyko and manager Bobby, Adam has brought his supermodel girlfriend Lake along for the ride. Lake's nice enough and certainly hot enough, but Adam's looking for something more - someone to challenge him, someone who gets him. He just doesn't know it yet.
Morello is feisty, boisterous and supremely talented musically but her skills are not well showcased in grungy British fem-rock outfit The Dirty Pinks. Morello’s also in a relationship that sells her short, with trustworthy but boring banker Mark. She’s desperate for the band to take off whilst secretly waiting for someone to sweep her off her feet.
It also as interesting and highly entertaining characters like; Tyko (Mathew Baynton) The Make’s keyboardist who is the ironic dark horse with the best lines and delivery as well as Brit Gavin Mitchell as The Make’s hilarious American manager undergoing some sort of mid life crisis. Again I don't know Gavin Mitchell so I assumed he was American, but he is actually a Brit.

I should also mention the cameo appearances from some of the musicians playing at T in The Park 2010 and the 85000 strong festival goers participating while the film was being made.

The real highlight of You Instead was actually the element that I thought would be its downfall - when I realised that both leads would actually perform on stage at some point and it wouldn't just be a glossed over as a token performance - and both Natalia Tena and Luke Treadaway acquit ted themselves very well in this respect with entertaining and very credible musical performances.

You Instead

With The Makes coming across as Depeche Mode mashed up with The Chemical Brothers. Those in the know say they are closer to the likes of MGMT and The Killers I don't think it was their best song "or live" it sounded much better but You can hear the You Instead title track by The Make right here.

The Make - You Instead by YouInstead

I don’t want to give too much away but Tena & Treadway actually share a rather awesome onstage Tainted Love performance, which serves as the tipping point in their relationship and it works really well as I couldn’t help be swept away by the music, the sheer audacity of commandeering a stage during a festival and the obvious chemistry between the two.

You Instead is an incredible achievement! Not only creating two bands with their own sound and mostly original material but shooting a film over a weekend at a festival and then throw in live performances from the leads- is some kind of magic.

But You Instead is not a perfect storm I have seen David Mackenzie's very polished LA based Ashton Kutcher & Anne Heche starrer Spread and I think Director by David Mackenzie had to make a trade off of his bold ambition to capture the almost real-time Festival experience by losing a bit on character development and narrative flow leaving some of the characters and story feels a little forced at times and unbalancing the good bits of the film slightly.
I also think some may struggle the guerrilla style camera work even though it is really immersive and makes you feel as if you are part of the festival experience.

Not only is You Instead a great date film but a time capsule capturing the festival experience and zeitgeist of our times. It may not be this year’s biggest summer success but I suspect that it has longevity and will gather a loyal following over time as people begin fully appreciate it’s light magic.

You Instead

You Instead will be released on Friday 16 September, 2011

You Instead
Two feuding rock stars get handcuffed together for 24 hours at a music festival where they are both due to perform.

Director: David Mackenzie
Stars: Luke Treadaway, Natalia Tena and Mathew Baynton

You Instead Review