As the credits roll and you walk towards the exit, you’ll probably wonder where 24 Hour Party People came from. This thought will throb about your head, leaving you dizzied by the trail of lights on the theatre floor. It feels as if you’ve been inside a dreamy club/museum for two hours and as you walk out into the sunlight, it’ll hit you that bands like Joy Division no longer exist, much less explosive music scenes like “Madchester.” Celluloid uppers followed by reality downers.
24 Hour Party People is a faux documentary about Manchester, England from 1976-1992 and the full-sprint ambition of concert promoter Tony Wilson, a role played effortlessly by British comic Steve Coogan. During these years, Manchester was laced with a live assault of bands that changed the face of music forever and documented humanity’s craving for creative chaos and hedonism.
The film kicks off with a Monty Pythonesque scene in which Wilson, on assignment as a broadcast journalist, hang glides and crashes in front of his camera crew. Refusing to compromise his integrity, Wilson speaks directly to the audience ala Ferris Bueller without a wink, and compares his failure of flight to Icarus’. He continues to explain how Icarus’ story is also a metaphor for his involvement in the Manchester music industry. It’s a vivid recreation of music legend from here on.
Wilson churns out another monster of an analogy, this time to the Last Supper, while in attendance at the first Sex Pistols show in 1976. A mere 42 people were present during that group’s debut performance, and cinematographer Robby M