The film, directed by Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels actor Nick Moran, rushes through a deliciously punk spirit. You see Alan’s early years (Leo Flanagan) growing up on a Glasgow council estate, pumped with Welsh’s musically expletive and dialect-savvy dialogue.
The young Alan is inspired by the androgynous style of David Bowie and the anarchic attitude of The Sex Pistols. He watches the latter’s interview on the Today show and dances aggressively around the living room to Anarchy in the UK, encapsulating the unique liberation of hearing that song for the first time. All of this, naturally, comes under the stuffy, conservative scrutiny of his father (played by The Skids’ frontman Richard Jobson).
Alan inevitably escapes to form his own band in a London ‘s***hole’, discovering quickly that everyone is better than him. He decides instead to scoop up the excellent but lesser-known sounds for his own label.
Leo Flanagan (right) plays the young Alan McGee, inspired by punk rock. Photo: Sky
It’s impossible to avoid the comparisons to Trainspotting – not only because of Welsh and exec-producer Danny Boyle, but also the casting of Ewen Bremner. Bremner vividly portrays an aloof, offensive but likeable McGee with wired, sweary, Scottish charm.
You can tell that Ewan McGregor was considered for the role at one stage: the voiceover strumming with a Mark Renton rhythm. There are even dream sequences where Alan struggles underwater, mimicking the Worst Toilet in Scotland scene. But Bremner, who the real McGee preferred, brings a balding grit that McGregor’s stardom might’ve compromised.
The haze of befores and afters and nightmares and hallucinogenic drug trips can be confusing to navigate, especially when Jason Isaacs arrives out of nowhere playing a posh film producer. But reality is hardly important here. It’s like plunging through a constant high, either via music or cocaine.
Ewen Bremner plays McGee with wired, sweary charm. Photo: Sky
That anti-establishment fury tails off in Alan’s later years: looking at his rehab, his submission to suit-and-tie corporations, and getting involved with New Labour. The brief drop into politics feels rushed – but was that the fleeting nature of the ‘Cool Britannia’ period, when pop icons like Oasis were invited to Downing Street?
Tony Blair even makes a cartoonish appearance, played with wide, artificial smiles by James Payton – looking like a Spitting Image puppet. Jimmy Savile (Alistair McGowan) also makes a slimy, portentous entrance, chewing a big cigar, representing the corrupt system McGee was entering.
Creation Stories pushes you into that buzz of rebellion, the agony and ecstasy of punk rock. The spirit is infectious, makes you feel capable of breaking and battering and shattering the world into something better. And considering the sedentary states we’ve been obliged to maintain in lockdown, the film is a rocky, raging respite.
Creation Stories is available on Sky Cinema from Saturday 20 March
|Creation Stories, Sky Cinema review
20 Mar 21 – 20 Mar 22, ON SKY CINEMA
|Click here for more information