FILM REVIEW: Schemers aims for cult classic status but it's no Trainspotting
FILM REVIEW: SCHEMERS (15)
VIEWED AT THE LIGHT CINEMA, WISBECH
STARS: CONOR BERRY, SEAN CONNOR, GRANT ROBERT KEELAN, TARA LEE AND ALASTAIR THOMSON MILLS.
RUNNING TIME: 1 HR 31 MINS
DIRECTOR: DAVE MCLEAN.
I often feel that films over-run their course, that the story is stretched out when it could have been condensed into a couple of hours or less.
But with Schemers, the 91 minutes of air time is not enough to tell the whole story, to investigate the relationships and to let us fully invest. It could have been a cult classic, but it won’t be.
The ‘true’ story is written and directed by Dave Mclean and charts his early years in Dundee as a hand-to-mouth gig promoter who, with friends Scot (Connor) and John (Keelan), makes money and loses it just as fast.
Set in 1982, Davie's (Berry) football career ends after a bad injury, and, while in hospital, he falls for nurse Shona (Lee). After promising to take her to a non-existent disco he claims to be organising, he is forced to put on the event after she accepts.
Having made a bit of cash from the event, the lads go on to promote more gigs, featuring young bands, many of whom, like Simple Minds, went on to be hugely successful. There’s a cracking eighties indie soundtrack to the film too.
But Davie, who likes a bet, gets out of his depth and in debt with gangster Fergie (Mills), who is taking more and more of a cut from the profits.
With Davie in debt to Fergie, John facing losing his house and his marriage and Scot seemingly clueless, they book Iron Maiden for a gig, that if it succeeds, will pay off all their debts.
And running parallel to all of this is the romance between Davie and Shona – although not enough is made of the relationship and you leave the film not really knowing whether they were friends, lovers or just something in between.
Davie put on the first disco to woo her, booked Simple Minds to please her, and yet for too much of the film she's a sidelined add-on when she could have been the co-star.
There’s some touching moments between Davie and his parents and John and his wife and there’s pieces of genuinely funny comedy too, but the young actors don’t quite pull it off.
With the opening chase scene, freeze frame and narration, it also clearly borrows from a real Scottish classic, Trainspotting.
If I was to write a story about my youth, I’d be happy to paint myself as the loveable, roguish, cheeky, always forgiven hero that Mclean sees in his younger self. I’d get the girl though.
By Jeremy Ransome