Year – 2002
Country – U.K.
Length– 112 mins
Production companies –Film4, Revolution Films, Baby Cow Productions, UK Film Council, The Film Consortium
Director – Michael Winterbontom
Staring – Steve Coogan, Paddy Considine, Andy Serkis, Paul Popplewell, Shirley Henderson, Lennie James, Sean Harris, Peter Kay
Tony Wilson. That may not be a name completely familiar with everyone reading this, but the names he helped to create are; Joy Division, New Order, The Happy Mondays, anyone?
24 Hour Party People is the story of the Manchester that helped spawn two generations of innovative music and subculture. Beginning with The Sex Pistols’s famous gig at the town Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976, it tells the tale of Factory Records right through to the closing of the much loved Hacienda night club; and with Steve Coogan playing the main man, Tony Wilson, the humour is delivered throughout.
Recorded just after I’m Alan Partridge’s second series finished, Coogan’s portrayal of Wilson has many parallels to that of the fictitious Norfolk Nights host. Wilson is shown as preening, self-important, and boastfully intellectual- ‘I went to Cambridge University, I’m a serious fucking journalist’ he scowls after forced to hand glide across the moors for Granada TV. Regardless, his portrayal of Wilson is overall, one of tribute and respect, showing him to be an ambitious, but paternal and instinctively well natured man.
I understand why this could feel to some like too much off a naff nostalgia fest. The original gig footage, for example of The Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees, doesn’t slide in well with the rest of them of the movie, but instead gives an amateur collage impression. However, to add to the authenticity, numerous cameos make an appearance, including the real Tony Wilson, Mark E. Smith of The Fall, and my personal favourite, the enigmatic Howard Devoto, who, surprisingly, appears as a toilet cleaner!
If this kind of music is your thing, then this film will definitely be an enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours. It isn’t ground breaking, but it is fun- no doubt. If you’re old enough to have been around at the time, then revel in nostalgia, and if you’re too young to have even been born back then, see it as a lesson in the alternative history of Manchester.