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24 Hour Party People

Genius. Poet. Twat. 

Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Those of you unlucky enough not to live in the North West of England may well be unfamiliar with the name Tony Wilson, but the chances are you are very familiar with his legacy. From his humble beginnings as a reporter-at-large for Granada Television, Wilson went on to found one of the most important record labels of the 80s, Factory Records, as well as having a pivotal role in the rise of the "Madchester" ethos, and the destructive euphoria of Acid House. And this is his story.

Or rather, this is the story of the music, and what a story it is. From the rise and fall of Joy Division, and the enigmatic Ian Curtis, to the drug-addled revelry of Shaun Ryder and the Happy Mondays, it's all in here. How accurate it all is, however, you be the judge - as Wilson (played to perfection by Steve Coogan) says "When you can tell the truth or the legend, choose the legend". And certainly, there are plenty to choose from during the period fans would call the Golden Age of Manchester.

Director Michael Winterbottom has crafted something of an enigmatic work - a film that successfully eludes pigeonholing while at the same time eschewing any kind of strict narrative structure. Far from detracting from the quality of the film, this device lends the film an ambience entirely in keeping with the chaotic times it depicts. Wilson is the anchor around which this crazy world rotates - in turn an arrogant fool and a visionary genius, but as he says merely a bit-part player in his own life story. His frequent asides to the camera constitute some of the films most amusing (and, naturally, post-modern) moments, while his interactions with the other characters are often hilariously surreal.

24 Hour Party People is at heart a comedy drama that encompasses the rise and fall of Wilson's empire, from the rise of the Sex Pistols to the fall of the Hacienda Nightclub. However, for all the comedy, this is a film that embraces the music, the crazy, wonderful, soulful, exciting sounds of the greatest and most original English bands of the 1980s, and beyond. This film is something like genius; fractured, funny, wild at heart, and just about the best film of the year. Don't miss it.

Greg Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Autumn Term (35mm)