You Instead Review

Festival season is finally over, and thank god for that.

Of course, other brands of deities are available. Or not, depending on what environment you were unlucky enough to be born into.

The travelling, the mud, the average bands drowning out anything good, the god awful food leading to the hell that is a festival portakabin. And worst of all, the swarms of people choking up these events like cholesterol in a fat man’s arteries.

I can live without any and indeed all of these things.

My, how I could do without people.

Still, if you’re already suffering from the first pangs of festival withdrawal symptoms, you may want to relive your memories through You Instead.

Rather unpromisingly, it begins with a contrived situation that leads a boy and girl who don’t like each other much being handcuffed together ’til they do by an old man with a young heart.

The boy is Adam, the good looking half of fictitious american electronica duo The Make. Luckily, their music’s a whole lot better than their name.

The girl is Morello, lead singer of all girl punk outfit The Dirty Pink’s and most definitely not looking to pop any sort of cherry with the boy she finds herself manacled to.

The next twenty minutes or so are filled with some predictable moments of non-comedy as this “odd couple” and their significant others of choice are forced to spend time in the company of people they definitely wouldn’t choose.

Now, the usual formula for comedies is for the first half to ring funny and true only for the second half to fall down as the story struggles to make something meaningful out of that promising premise.

Or is that relationships?

So when You Instead starts out distinctly average like, I was braced for the worst.

And yet, against all known rules for cinematic romantic comedies, this film actually gets better as it progresses.

While the overly scripted jokes in the first half feel too forced, the burgeoning relationship between the two leads provides a pleasingly genuine contrast to this faux start.

For this, credit should go to the two leads, Luke Treadaway and Natalia Tena. The chemistry between them is fluid enough to make you believe in what you know will happen to them, in spite of the predictable laughs provided by their supporting cast.

They even manage to make beautiful music together, as Adam’s impromptu involvement in one of The Dirty Pink’s biggest tracks fails to taint their fans love of them.

In fact, the musical dexterity of both Tena and Treadaway is as impressive as their acting.

As a result, You Instead manages to capture both the vibe of a festival and that energy you get when you meet someone and immediately feel connected to them.

Admittedly, handcuffs don’t usually come out to play til much later down the line.

As the two leads journey draws you in, even the jokes begin to work as we experience a microcosm of festival life through the contrasting adventures of the other band members escapades.

The overwhelming message of love and positivity You Instead reaches by its climax can’t fail to warm even the most tainted of souls.

And yes, that means me.

Jonathan Campbell

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September 2011
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