Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Keeping the Faith ; Elaine Constantine Poured Her Heart and Soul ? as Well as Plenty of Cash ? into Her Film Love?letter to Northern Soul. and Now It's about to Hit Big Screens Nation?wide

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Keeping the Faith ; Elaine Constantine Poured Her Heart and Soul ? as Well as Plenty of Cash ? into Her Film Love?letter to Northern Soul. and Now It's about to Hit Big Screens Nation?wide

Article excerpt

IF you could smell a film, then Northern Soul would reek of Brut aftershave and sweat - the whiff of an all-nighter. Authenticity runs through this film like the lettering in a stick of Blackpool rock.

The faultless attention to detail on display is down to the film's writer and director, Elaine Constantine, who spent the best part of her youth in Bury following the Northern Soul scene.

She remembers it well - the dancing, the people, the clothes and, above all else, the music. And it's all here, in all its brown and beige 1970s glory.

Dancers wear impossibly baggy parallel trousers (usually Electric blue, purchased from Slaters) and ankle-length circle skirts. They perform intricate footwork, punctuated by the sort of acrobatic back drops, high kicks and pirouettes normally associated with a King Fu master.

But this was the only sort of dancing that could keep up with the constant four-beat rhythm of the obscure American B sides that were dancefloor anthems at Wigan Casino, Manchester's Twisted Wheel and The Torch at Stoke.

And here's another example of Elaine's faithfulness to the scene - during each song played in the film's all-nighter scenes, every unified handclap slices through the air like a guillotine. You'll be hard pressed to find a veteran soulie who's hairs on the back of thier neck don't stand to attention when they hear that sound all these years later.

All those who took part in the all-nighter scenes - main parts and hundreds of extras - attended dance classes in Bolton and London for a couple of years before the film was shot in Bolton, Middleton, Blackburn and Burnley.

"It was clear," says Elaine, "that I couldn't just audition actors and expect them to be able to pick up the dance moves in a matter of months. Everyone would see through that. These kids had to be able to really dance like they did in Wigan and the like. A major thing to ask, but it had to be spot on."

Josh Whitehouse plays Matt, a factory worker living for the weekend and his next all-nighter, and says he'd never danced before making the film. As a matter of fact he'd never acted before - his passion was a band in which he played guitar - but he cracked both tasks gloriously. "When I first saw the dancing, I thought 'blimey, I'll never do that', he says, "but once I started learning the moves and the flips and listening to the music, I was caught up in it all."

The film is beautifully shot. Elaine is, after all, an award- winning photographer working for Vogue, The Face and i-D and with a clutch of top notch ad campaigns such as Jack Wills and Easyjet under her belt.

But this project is her personal and very heartfelt love letter to Northern Soul - its music, the movement, its people and, I suspect, her youth.

It's worth pointing out, however, that this is not exclusively a film for the keep-the-faith purists. …

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