Good Vibrations (Ireland, 2012)

Directors :  Lisa Barros D'Sa, Glenn Leyburn

Starring: Richard Dormer, Jodie Whittaker, Michael Colgan, Adrian Dunbar, Liam Cunningham

Screenplay: Colin Carberry, Glenn Patterson

Music: Various 

Editor: Nick Emerson 

Cinematography: Ivan McCullough 

Bit Part: Dylan Moran

Dull Anecdote: I used to have a photograph of Feargal Sharkey and me – arms around each other’s shoulders outside The Liverpool Empire circa May 1980. An ‘ex’ of mine ripped it up in a fit of jealous pique. I tried to sellotape it* together, but it just wasn't working. 

*The relationship. 

In One Line: Belfast music fan defies the odds to bring music to his home city.


Belfast music fan Terry Hooley (Dormer) is tired of the lack of opportunities to hear music in his home city during 'The Troubles'. People are scared to go out and his local pub/club/disco is on its last legs.

He decides to reinvigorate the Belfast music scene. Hooley's bank manager is impressed with his energy and spirit and loans him the money for the Good Vibrations record shop.

A chance visit to an early punk gig by local band Rudi leads to Hooley's second epiphany. He decides to set up his own label with Rudi's song Big Time as its first 45.

Sectarian violence plagues Belfast and Hooley does his best to play the various factions whilst establishing his label and trying to keep his marriage to the kindly  and supportive Ruth (Whittaker) alive and well. Derry band The Undertones come to his attention and the recording of Teenage Kicks is another epiphany/moment of spiritual triumph for the nascent entrepreneur.

As his mini-empire starts to crumble, Hooley arranges one last big gig to fight off the closure of Good Vibrations


I do my best not to include biopics on this site. They’re not just problematical in terms of artistic merit, artistic truth and for want of a term, history – they’re nearly always fucking dreadful. From the barrel scrapers of True Movies’ The Meatloaf Story’ (possibly The Cookery Channel, that one, come to think of it) to big slabs of worthiness like Lincoln, they’re not really for me.

Good Vibrations is terrific, though. I’m not sure how it would work on the small screen, but at the cinema, it was just magical.

Richard Dormer’s central performance as Good Vibrations owner Terry Hooley is outstanding. How true to the original Terry Hooley he might be I can’t tell you, but Dormer’s good-natured performance and the actor’s obvious largesse is quite mesmerising and he holds a technically accomplished film together with consummate skill.

The directors’ evocation of the 1970s is a s good as I’ve seen and it’s only rival would be David Fincher’s Zodiac, although we are talking about blockbuster finances for this film compared to the buttons I would imagine were spent on Good Vibrations.

There are too many good scenes to be described here, but Hooley’s Pauline moment of epiphany when he attends his first punk gig (by local boys Rudi) is a moment of pure cinematic joy, and Hooley’s first hearing of the studio recording of Teenage Kicks was another brilliant goosebumps moment. 

Better than any in film I can remember though, is the way that directors Barros D’Sa and Leyburn catch the sheer excitement and exhilaration of punk and the pleasurable explosion of joy that was being young and at a punk ‘gig’ (not a word that punks favoured) in the late 70s.

As an Eric’s veteran, I was just moved to tears on so many occasions by this film.

I’m still buzzing from the memory of this film some weeks after the actual event and I feel that on a second viewing there may be* too much of an ageing punk rocker’s hyperbole in my little review here.

 But for now, Good Vibrations is my first


 for a very long time.

 SV 2013

*There was!