Director David Mackenzie likes to try his hand at different things. Amongst other things, he’s done the twisted psychosexual thing with Young Adam and Hallam Foe, the epidemic movie with Perfect Sense and now tries his hand at a rather standard rom-com with You Instead. The main difference between this and every other rom-com is that it’s set at the T In The Park music festival.
Luke Treadaway plays Adam, a hugely successful American singer with all the baggage that comes with the position. He has the brash manager, the model girlfriend and the numerous insecurities. Natalia Tena is Morello, a member of a girl band with a limited fanbase but a lot of integrity. Or, at least, I think that’s the deal. The girl band have more freedom of expression, more fun and are just better than the boy band. Well, that’s what David Mackenzie (working from a screenplay by Thomas Leveritt) wants us to think without really backing it up. The fun begins just moments into the movie when Adam and Morello are handcuffed together for 24 hours and move from bickering with one another and mocking each other to developing other feelings.
Mackenzie gets some things right here, the movie certainly isn’t an unentertaining mess. The atmosphere and vibe of the music festival is just right and there’s a greater feeling of being amongst all the fun than there ever was in something like 9 Songs (for example). The chemistry between Adam and Morello may be predictable and unoriginal but it’s also not all that bad and a cheesy moment in which Adam influences the set that Morello’s band are playing proves to be as enjoyable as it is potentially cringeworthy.
Sadly, there’s just not enough of the good stuff on display to keep things worthwhile from beginning to end and one of the biggest problems is why Mackenzie decided that the famous rocker Adam had to be American. Luke Treadaway is a very good young actor (just check out his hilarious turn in Attack The Block to see him doing much better) but he doesn’t convince as a swaggering American rock star. Natalia Tena is a decent enough actress and yet her character is overburdened with too much colour and naivete. Matthew Baynton is great fun as Tyko, Adam’s bandmate, but he’s about the only one to make a really good impression onscreen.
You can get to hang about at a festival without worrying about using the portaloos, getting too muddy, looking after your tent or taking some substances that you didn’t realise you’d taken. Which is all well and good. But you can’t rate this as one of the better romantic comedies of recent years and being average in such an overpopulated field is just not good enough.
DIRECTOR: DAVID MACKENZIE
STARS: LUKE TREADAWAY, NATALIA TENA, MATTHEW BAYNTON, ALASTAIR MACKENZIE, GAVIN MITCHELL
RUNTIME: 90 MINS APPROX