Creation Stories: Film Review

Creation Stories

I love a throwback music industry biopic and Creation Stories – about record label boss Alan McGee – is no exception. It’s extremely lightweight, but I had a lot of fun with it.

The film starts with teenage Alan (Leo Flanagan) growing up in ’70s Glasgow, forming a band in his room with his school friend Bobby Gillespie (Ciaran Lawless) – later of Primal Scream – and follows the inception and rise of his independent record label Creation Records, which discovered and made famous bands such as The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, and Oasis. This is framed around an older McGee (Ewen Bremner) giving in an interview with American journalist Gemma (Suki Waterhouse) in Los Angeles, then in London, and then again on a talk show.

Creation Stories, directed by Nick Moran, opens with the disclaimer “most of this happened” and that some of the names have been changed “to protect the guilty”, immediately setting the irreverent and cheeky tone the biopic is about to take. If you’ve come to the movie expecting a deep, serious, and detailed look into McGee’s life, you will be disappointed because it is not like that at all. It is fun, light, and amusing, with the movie zipping by at a chaotic clip, offering up a highlights reel of McGee’s life while acknowledging but not dwelling on the lowlights such as his relationship with his father and his stint in rehab. The pace is fast, the editing is short and snappy, and there are plenty of asides and instances of Alan putting his words into other people’s mouths.

The script is hilarious and McGee’s turn of phrase often cracked me up, and it all made sense when I saw it had been written by Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh with Dean Cavanaugh, based on McGee’s 2013’s autobiography Creation Stories: Riots, Raves and Running a Label. It helps if you know McGee’s work, this era of rock/pop, and the bands he popularised before you go in because the film assumes that viewers do and moves through signings and Creation Records’ developments quickly. I wasn’t clued up and although I could follow it, I think viewers that have that knowledge will appreciate the film much more.

There are a bunch of standout scenes that make Creation Stories very entertaining, such as the bailiffs knocking on the record label’s door, Alan being escorted away by police for kicking off at My Blood Valentine for taking so long to make their album, and his first encounter with Oasis in King Tut’s in Glasgow in the early ’90s. Thankfully, the actors who portray the famous musicians don’t get much screen time, as that could have been quite distracting, although I thought Leo Harvey-Elledge was a decent Liam Gallagher looks-wise.

Bremner is a fun, hilarious lead who really sells the cheeky chap routine and his energy fits in perfectly with the tone of the movie. He delivers some fantastic lines as well as some very long, rapid-fire monologues. My other favourites were Jason Isaacs as Ralph, a British movie producer in LA who is super posh and camp, and Thomas Turgoose, a more sensible executive at Creation.

Creation Stories rips up the biopic rulebook and delivers something unique and fresh, but it is very lightweight and forgettable.

On Sky Cinema from Saturday 20th March

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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