Film Reviews / Music

Schemers review: Dir. Dave Mclean (2020)

Schemers, Dreamers, True Believers…

I’ll never forget the thrill of seeing Trainspotting for the first time. It was lively, it was fresh and speaking in my generations vernacular (even if it wasn’t my accent). It’s even harder to forget that thrill of Ewan McGregor‘s Renton running down Princes Street to those Iggy Pop drums, and when you’re watching the opening of Schemers. Same thrill, same grit, same cool. Not that Schemers is a remake, rehash, reboot of that recipe and, yet, regional dialect, shady characters and alternative bangers make for an affecting period piece. If you seek that thrill, you can have a ball with this. 

The first act is a smoke-hazed post-punk pint o’ heavy on tough streets. The action filled with vintage riffs and the dulling of sharp wits with battered pound notes exchanged for glasses of poison. Conor Berry is every inch the Artful Dodger via Gregory’s Girl, which this kind of caper requires. The scheme of starting a disco to impress a girl (in this instance the magnetic Tara Lee) is genius in its period setting and relatability: Like a scrungier Sing Street. The youthful pursuit of a beautiful coupling to the coolest music can reach through the decades to any music fan. Dundee looks beautiful, the performances have a lightness of touch and the soundtrack is rammed with belters.

Some of young Davey’s decisions put me in mind of a street punk take on Adam Sandler‘s Howie in the recent Netflix smash Uncut Gems. That this is a true story (written, directed and recalled in glorious believably unbelievable detail by the man who lived it: Dave Mclean) adds so much emotional heft. The second act slows down a touch to let the romance breathe before the (sincerely scary) bad guys turn up. Then its a downhill slalom with hints of rock movie milestones 24 Hour Party People, Good Vibrations and the criminally underrated CBGB, all the way to a ‘will they wont they’ set up for Iron Maiden to play a real-life Waynestock.

Schemers is full of moments that elevate its soundtrack songs alongside the onscreen action. A trick that creates many a small memorable vignette for any open rock and roll heart that’s watching. Hawkwind soundtracking the arrival of disco lights, fighting on a beach in underwear to the Dead Kennedys, the cash building montage to The Proclaimers. It’s a crate dig of pop culture in jokes (Simple Minds, U2 and XTC all making with the funnies) and cheeky chappie scrapes. I couldn’t help but be charmed by its lack of concern for cool and its laser focus on fun.

Fans making moves for the love of music? It left me with a big daft grin. 

Schemers opens in UK cinemas on 25 September

Find your closest screening here https://schemers.usheru.com/site?country=united-kingdom

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