Magazine article Screen International

'Lost in France': Edinburgh Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Lost in France': Edinburgh Review

Article excerpt

Dir. Niall McCann. Ireland/UK, 2016. 104 mins

After his sharp-edged documentary about art-pop agitator Luke Haines, Art Will Save The World, director Niall McCann broadens his scope without losing punch in another loving tribute to indie-rock outsiders. Toggling the narrative focus between the mid-1990s rise of Glasgow independent label Chemikal Underground and various labelmates' 2015 return to the site of a 1997 French festival, McCann mounts a warm-spirited mix of glowing nostalgia, tremendous music, gang bonds and on-point politics in Lost In France, wherein the declining options for cash-strapped indie musicians are pointedly noted.

With canny targeting at music devotees from UK distributor Curzon Artificial Eye, the thoroughly involving results could deliver modest business for small-scale production companies Still Films (Pyjama Girls) and Edge City Films (Skeletons, Lore), before broadcast appointments beckon.

If 2010's talking-heads-heavy Upside Down: The Creation Records Story offered druggier twists on the sub-genre of record-label docs, McCann's entry is more invitingly shot in its 2015 sequences by Julian Schwanitz (Where You're Meant To Be). Footage of rain-spattered tour-bus wing mirrors and autumnal backdrops set a reflective tone, while the tiny venue for the gig in Mauron is first spied through a backdoor from sepia-toned backstreets, like a teasing glimpse into a vibrant alternative universe.

The musicians inside prove engagingly earthy company, their ranks including The Delgados, cult favourites who launched Chemikal Underground in 1994; Franz Ferdinand's dapper Alex Kapranos, who hadn't yet formed Franz in 1997; folksy guitarist/singer RM Hubbert, a bear-ish chap with fluent finger-picking skills; and Stuart Braithwaite, cheery axe-man in noise-rock powerhouses Mogwai.

For those who recall a time when Mogwai could occupy the NME's cover, the home-made archive footage should provide nostalgic tingles. For newbies, the history is briskly detailed and, thanks to spot-on music choices, terrifically soundtracked. The three-chord tornado of Mogwai's Mogwai Fear Satan is so good it gets used twice, first for a rush-of-youth montage of press cuttings, archive footage and on-screen text explaining Chemikal's rise. …

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