Coming of Age at the Wigan Casino
"SoulBoy" starts with what feels like a 1970s promo for Stoke-on-Trent, it is similar in a way to the start of "The Full Monty" setting that element of nostalgia. And throughout the movie we get more nostalgia as we watch a young man become infatuated by Northern Soul when he goes to the Wigan Casino. But then strip away this element of nostalgia and what you have left with is a run of the mill coming of age storyline as the young man fancies a girl who is out of his league and so is blind to the fact that a girl more suited to him is in love with him. It is from a storyline point of view unoriginal, follows a path which many other movies have followed and throws up few surprises along the way which is kind of a shame as whilst "SoulBoy" still entertains it ends up ordinary.
Young Joe McCain (Martin Compston) is a man without purpose, he floats through life working as a delivery boy with Brendan (Pat Shortt) and then going to the local club "The Purple Onion" with his friend Russ (Alfie Allen). When one day Joe spots the sexy Jane (Nichola Burley) in the street he follows her and discovers she is a fan of Northern Soul, travelling at weekends to the Wigan Casino. It is Joe's introduction to Northern Soul as he desperately tries to attract Jane but he is so blinkered by Jane he is unable to see that his friend Mandy (Felicity Jones) is in love with him.
In many ways the big selling point to "SoulBoy" is the nostalgia aspect as it takes us back to 1974 and Stoke-on-Trent. From "The Purple Onion" where the locals go to drink through to Joe going to the Wigan Casino where he first truly encounters Northern Soul it does a nice job of setting the scene. It does seem at times to try and force the whole nostalgia by cramming in as many references as possible making it loose a touch of natural flow but anyone who was part of the Northern Soul scene during the 70s will enjoy the various references and the music which definitely is a plus point.
But then for all this recreation of the past the actual storyline seems a bit of a let down because the story is your run of the mill coming of age romantic drama. As such once we meet Joe, the attractive Jane and the pleasantly cute Mandy we know what will happen, Joe will be so blinkered by being attracted to Jane who is out of his league that he won't realise that Mandy is in love with him. And as such in true style the story weaves its way to an inevitable climax where having messed up big time Joe has a chance to put things right. How he puts things right, that big climax well to be honest it is cheesy but also strangely entertaining.
So we have some good nostalgia and a run of the mill coming of age storyline and coming in the middle of these are the performances. The young cast which features Martin Compston, Nichola Burley, Felicity Jones and Alfie Allen all do a reasonable job but then I doubt you will be remembering their performances or characters a week after you've watched the movie.
What this all boils down to is that "SoulBoy" is entertaining, the whole nostalgia for the 70s is enjoyable and whilst there are no brilliant performances no one lets the side down. But then the actual storyline is ordinary which is a bit of a let down and a shame that they couldn't come up with something more original.