The premise of You Instead occurs over a weekend at the Scottish held festival T in the park, where two feuding musicians find themselves handcuffed to each other as they’re about to perform on stage. The initial contempt between Adam (Luke Treadway) and Morello (Natalia Tena) changes over the course of the weekend as they are forced to cooperate with each other in order to rid themselves of these shackles. The effect of what this hindrance does to their relationship is anyone’s guess but … SPOILER ALERT! …they fall in love and get together.
If you believe this premise to be incredibly soppy or entirely predictable then you would be right. Yet for two people to fall in love over the course of a weekend at a music festival, you have to make the story totally convincing, the characters need to be charming and the audience needs to care whether they get together or not. As a romantic comedy in the conventional mode You Instead should be whimsically funny but not deter from its main romantic aim. Does David Mackenzie’s film succeed on all these counts? It does on some but unfortunately not quite enough to make it a conventional 5 or 4 star movie.
There is however a lot to admire from Mackenzie’s film especially if you consider the production process. First off due to the semi-Hitchcockian plot the two main leads had to remain handcuffed to each other for the duration of the movie. The movie was also shot entirely on location at last year’s T in the Park and so the people, the crowds, the stage and the mud are all real. Note the scene where actor Gavin Mitchell as Adam’s music manager stumbles around the park after having too much to drink; the shock and consideration from passers-by were truly genuine. Treadway and Tena and four other members of the cast had to perform on the main stage therefore they all had to be musically inclined. Also the feature was shot within four days where most of the dialogue was improvised.
To analyse this all, you would have to admit that it is an ambitious piece of film making. Though Treadway’s US accent is jarring at times, he and Tena in particular do a great job with the material. No LOL moments but there were a few chuckles scattered here and there. As a great film it does not add up to much but as a documentation of festival life, its environment and it’s cinema verite ethos it is fantastic. It is a film where you can watch it just for the atmosphere and music alone, and finally and most importantly it has a scene where The Proclaimers sing this song:
You Instead is out now,
Because of the end of the festival season if you need something for your withdrawal symptoms, then watching this will do you good.