Review : Schemers brings rock n’ roll style to the small-town hustle

Music promoter Dave McLean’s autobiographical coming-of-age music flick is available now.

As a life-long music promoter as well as band manager for UK alternative rock group Placebo, director Dave McLean has a million and one stories to tell. Rather than taking the typical approach of putting pen to paper for a tell-all book, he’s instead opted to adapt the events of his teen years into a feature film, Schemers.

Set in Dundee, Scotland circa 1980s, Schemers follows the early trajectory of young Davie (Conor Berry) from music-loving slacker to hustling gig promoter. After his hopes at a future in football are cut short by a thrashing by a disgruntled local (who, to be fair, catches Davie in the bedroom with his partner), our young protagonist is left with a dilemma: find some way to make a living, or be stuck in a dead-end factory job.

It’s not a difficult choice for Davie, who quickly begins formulating a scheme with some new-found mates to put on gigs, impress his crush (Tara Lee) and hopefully get the cash rolling in. As he quickly learns, it’s a far more complicated business than a teenager would anticipate, and the crew run into trouble when local gangsters get involved.

As trite as it may be to draw comparisons to Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, it’s to be expected given the setting and style – McLean accompanies the coming-of-age tale with voiceover and era-appropriate needle-drops that keeps the pace flowing. While it’s by no means this generation’s answer to Trainspotting – Boyle already achieved that with his 2017 sequel T2 – it’s an enjoyable throwback romp with charismatic performances by Berry and company. Younger viewers might not be quite as hooked as those who grew up in the same world as Dave, but there’s enough here for an afternoon’s fun.


SCHEMERS is now available on iTunes, Google Play and Sony PlayStation.

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