Kill Your Friends full movie review - Detestably entertaining expose/parody of the behind the scenes of pop
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
As the 1990s Britpop era dawns, Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult) is an A&R man, one of the suits behind the scenes who decides what makes the cut and what doesn't. His deduction is simple: that the music industry has an obligation to make records that sell, not what is artistically excellent, and that the majority of what is released commercially probably is just very average at best. But Steven has an ambition to rise to the top of his game, and not let anyone stand in his way, so when he sees others double crossing and under-cutting him, he unleashes his psychotic side, which eventually gets exploited by his conniving secretary Rebecca (Georgia King.)
As I've said before, it's a sad time when memories of your younger years, and the music that defined it, become more and more distant, and you start to feel like more of a relic of a time gone past. Owen Harris's adaptation of real life former A&R man John Niven's salacious revelations of the inside goings-on of the music industry (also marking his theatrical feature length debut) brings this cutthroat and mercenary world to life in a manner those familiar with the style of Trainspotting will warm to, and delivers the most fitting character in the shape of Stelfox, who embodies all the vice and corruption singularly with one stroke.
It's got the 'period detail' (God, putting that in this sentence makes me feel ancient!) down to a tee, from Blair's 'Britain deserves better' posters plastered over buildings, to the bulky, pre flat screen computers in the offices, using a touch other than the music to keep the authenticity in place. And, it would seem, Stelfox is type of man who defined those times, with the film relying on us witnessing him become more depraved as he goes on, and still needing us to enjoy him as a character and the excesses he rides. Certainly to someone of my generation, it's like he's inviting us in to laugh at ourselves and how we were manipulated and mislead into buying music that was less than what our hard earned (or, our parents hard earned) money deserved.
It doesn't work quite as well as Filth, which showed an almost equally as morally drained protagonist riding us along his ride, only with a little more character and oomph in his voice, as opposed to Hoult's dry, dour delivery, as well as a more coherent, easy flowing story, unlike this one which veers and loses it's ebb towards the end. But this is still a ghoulishly entertaining and hilarious delve into a murky, behind the scenes world. ****