It’s a ridiculously clever concept, really: a U.K.-set coming-of-age folm centered around each Stone Roses’ era-defining Spike Island gig in 1990. Unlike the Madchester heroes legendary concert, however, director Mat Whitecross’s “Spike Island” is not one that will be remembered for decades. Unexceptional it may be, but the film is undeniably involving for Stone Roses fans, and Anglophiles in general. (It’s “Taking Woodstock” for Britpoppers!)
It’s the kind of Lads-with-a-capital-“L” flick with a main character known as “Tits.” (Charming …) And that gets old pretty fast. However, star Elliott Tittensor gives a fine, believable performance as the aforementioned Gary “Tits” Tichfield, a young man devoted to the Roses, his own band, and his pals.
Tits and the other characters are saddled with some yawn-inducing subplots, including a dying father and dull romantic subplot involving — yes — SALLY (Cinnamon?), played by the Khaleesi herself, Emilia Clarke. When the gang finally makes it to the site of the gig, the film finally takes flight with some clever and convincing use of old film of the band and fine stage-setting from Whitecross.
And even when the characters and story feel rote, there is that glorious music. “Spike Island” is a reminder why the Roses still matter, and if it does nothing more, that makes for a worthwhile film.
The film is now available for rental or purchase on VOD, an ideal format considering its appeal to a limited but devoted American audience. For that group, “Spike Island” qualifies as a must-see.