12th Aug2021

‘To Be Someone’ Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Sam Gittins, Leslie Ash, Perry Benson, Marc Wingett, Toyah Willcox, Scott Peden | Written by Ray Burdis, Pete Meadows | Directed by Ray Burdis

I have only ever seen Quadrophenia once in my life and honestly I wasn’t that enamoured with the movie, I’m not exactly a fan of The Who (apart from Tommy, I love that) and I am a child of the late 80s early 90s, so the whole scooters and MOD subculture is kind of lost on me to be completely honest… it was more of a thing that people’s dads were into! However I have seen enough movies or TV shows that have touched on the era (This is England for example) to know it was, and to many will always be, an important part of history.

Luckily though, this movie didn’t have to appeal to my nostalgia bone. I didn’t press play because I have a huge love of everything MOD. I was sold instantly on the cast, Sam Gittins leading the way and you know what I’m calling this now, Gittins is about to blow up in a big way. I am honestly yet to see a bad Gittins performance (check out Break). Leslie Ash back on our screens, Perry Benson the absolute legend, Jim Carver himself Marc Wingett (The Bill) and of course Toyah Willcox. A host of names that you know from everything ever, that just make you want to see what they come up with. Then you throw Ray Burdis in the directors chair and it becomes a must watch for me. If the name Ray Burdis means nothing then please educate yourself and check out The Wee Man (Martin Compston’s breakout role), Love Honour and Obey (what a cast). So with all of that said let’s get into this one and see what To Be Someone is like…

Danny (Sam Gittins) is a fairly happy go lucky Bar and Scooter Shop owner with what feels like the world at his feet. However a local gangster, Mad Mike (Scott Peden) thinks Danny is the key to finding a stash of lethal drugs on the Isle of Mann. Reluctantly Danny has to assemble his team of misfit scooter pals and head to the island to find the pills, evade the police and hand over the pills to Mike… Oh there are also “Rude Boy Yardies”, Kinky Sex Workers, Dodgy Police, an Ancient Ghost and Ken the Perv (Perry Benson). You know all that good stuff!

To Be Someone lives and breathes with its cast, from the leading role of Gittins channeling an Alfiesque (Law or Caine) style, this role just affirms what I have suspected for a while now – this kid is going places. Breaking the fourth wall is not an easy trick to convincingly pull off but here it was done in all the best ways. Of course he is surrounded by a delectable medley of classic Brit stalwarts to play with. Okay so Toyah and Lesley Ash don’t have a massive great deal to do but they are hilarious and it warms your heart to see the banter with these ladies.

Perry Benson and Marc Wingett are a couple of scene stealers, the latter of which has been on a great run of form as of late. Honestly though Benson had me howling at times. Scott Peden as Mad Mike is on next level form and although this is a fun “Scooby gang” adventure movie at times Peden pulls out all the stops to take us into some dark insane territory.

Shout out to the soundtrack too because although I said all those things up top about The Who, Quadrophenia and that era, I was really feeling this soundtrack and that was mostly down to the band The Ks who have a couple of solid montage moments that make the flick flow nicely.

Now humour me for a second because, for me, there is a little bit of an elephant in the room and it’s a very small nitpick… I had a fair bit of trouble trying to pin down when To Be Someone was set. It’s supposed to be late 70s from what I can tell however Danny’s scooter shop has a website address. One of the characters won’t go into a cafe because it’s no smoking. Another character looks to be facetiming on an iPad then says she is going to watch a movie on it (wireless? In the 70s?). Oh and there are police cars with 51 plates so the movie is playing pretty fast and loose with its time setting. But you know what none of this actually bothered me to any real extent and kind of just felt like a low budget indie flick quirk. They did nail the attire though!

On the low budget nature… Do not be fooled by the indie nature of this flick because it looks really good for the most part; there was a moment that looked a little “off” when our boys were singing in the car but I really thought that was intentional in a way. The movie sounds great and there were some very slick editing choices that some lower budget flicks wouldn’t plum for, so they were appreciated.

Honestly To Be Someone is a really good time. It’s British at its very core and it’s a reminder that no matter the budget nobody does it better than us. Burdis has assembled a great cast that, if you’re looking for that Quadrophenia nostalgia, then you will get that but if your just looking for well acted, well written movie with actors you know then your also getting that too – with a well executed lead performance from a kid who is well and truly on the rise.

To Be Someone is a lot of fun, very light hearted and from a film making and storytelling point of view it is just good wholesome shenanigans. I had fun with this movie and suspect you will too if you give it a chance.

**** 4/5


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