A universal story of friendship, rebellion and the irresistible power of gathered youth set to an eclectic and electrifying 1990s rave soundtrack, Beats is a bittersweet coming-of-age story from Scottish director Brian Welsh (In Our Name), executive produced by Steven Soderbergh and selected to screen at Rotterdam International Film Festival. Developed from Kieran Hurley’s original one-man stage play, Welsh has turned the material into a film about a time, a place and a friendship that manages to be universal and yet delightfully Scottish.
The year is 1994 and as the Tory government’s Criminal Justice Bill cracks down on rave culture, we meet our heroes: two gawky West Lothian teenagers, techno-head Jonno (Cristian Ortega) and Spanner (Lorn Macdonald). Best pals at school but from two very different social backgrounds, their paths in life look set to diverge. As tension between them grows, both young men know that this is probably the end of an era and possibly their friendship. When word travels of an upcoming underground protest rave, it seems like an ideal chance for one last hurrah and celebration of all they’ve been through together.
Shot in luminous black-and-white, counterpointing the grittiness of the inner city with the vivid delights of club culture, Beats is a rollicking buddy movie with its own unique spirit – both exuberant and nihilistic – that will definitely give Generation X-ers a vivid trip down memory lane.