Virtual Screening Room: Beats



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2019 • dir Brian Welsh w/Cristian Ortega, Lorn Macdonald • 101 min

In this exhilarating coming-of-age film, two teenage best friends in 1994 Scotland risk everything to attend an illegal rave being put on to protest the “Criminal Justice and Public Order Act” which outlawed unlicensed dance parties. Johnno (Ortega) and Spanner (Macdonald) both come from the same run-down part of town but they are headed on different paths. Johnno is a smart but introverted kid whose mother is determined to move them to a brighter future. Spanner is the loudmouth brother of the local petty crime boss whose anarchic free-spirit hides a life of pain and belies his sensitivity. When it becomes clear that their friendship is at a crossroads, the oil-and-water duo set out in pursuit of one last crazy night together. Characterized by (of course) a great soundtrack and universally great performances from a young cast, BEATS is a universal story of friendship, rebellion, and the irresistible power of music.

NYT Critic’s Pick! “This tender, detail-filled movie lives for the moment.”
– Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times

“It is a unique, even Keaton-esque performance, as true as it is strange, funny, and very touching.”
– Amy Taubin, Film Comment

“Coming on like Shane Meadows at 140BPM, Beats is a truly heartfelt rites-of-passage tale – an immersive, intoxicating portrayal of the rave scene at its peak.”
– Dan Jolin, Empire