out of Five
Running time: 90
Enjoyable British romcom enlivened by strong performances and two stand-out scenes in particular, though the admittedly impressive shot-during-T-in-the-Park-weekend factor doesn't entirely compensate for the lack of decent dialogue and the loss in sound quality.
What's it all about?
Directed by David Mackenzie (Perfect Sense), You Instead was shot during the July 2010 T in the Park festival, in Kinross-shire, Scotland. Luke Treadaway stars as Adam, the heart-throb lead singer of successful electro-pop combo The Make, who gets handcuffed to feisty punk singer Morello (Natalie Tena) by a mysterious stranger while the pair are in the middle of an argument.
When the keys fail to materialise, the bickering pair realise that they'll have to spend the weekend hand-cuffed together, which naturally doesn't go down too well with their respective partners, supermodel Lake (Ruta Gedmintas) and banker Mark (director's brother Alastair Mackenzie). And as if their relationship problems weren't enough, there's also the small matter of performing on stage.
Treadaway is excellent as the initially cocky musician who gets the smirk wiped off his face, and he has suitably sparky chemistry with Tena, who, in turn, does a good job of making Morello annoyingly bolshy at the beginning. There's also strong comic support from Gavin Mitchell (as The Make's increasingly bonkers manager) and from Mathew Baynton as Adam's musical partner Tyko, who ends up having a wild weekend of his own.
As romcom ideas go, the premise is extremely appealing (after all, it worked in The 39 Steps) and the script duly has a lot of fun with it (you can spot the portaloo scene coming a mile away). However, the film's best moments are the two on-stage concert scenes, which work brilliantly and form the heart of the film.
While it's an undeniably impressive achievement to have shot the entire film over the T in the Park weekend, it's also fair to say that there's a concurrent loss of sound quality (at least in some scenes) that is a little frustrating. Similarly, the largely improvised dialogue isn't quite as engaging or as entertaining as it might have been and you can't help wondering what might have happened if the filmmakers had taken more time over everything.
The on-the-hoof nature of the production means that it's a little patchy in places but You Instead is still an enjoyable and original British romcom. Worth seeing.