Student Critics Daniel Mohr reviews
(David McLean, UK, 2019)
Set during the late 1970s and early 1980s in Dundee, Schemers depicts the early career beginnings of David McLean (newcomer Conor Berry), a prominent figure in the music industry, who also wrote, directed and produced the film. It starts out with the young ambitious lad trying to figure out his place in the world and deciding to throw a disco gig with his friends. This dramatically changes his life, as it soon leads to much bigger and more ambitious shows.
The film’s tone is a consistent and vibrant one, introducing the audience to David’s bohemian lifestyle full of alcohol and few responsibilities. It does not, however, fall into the stereotypical ‘Scottish film’ category solely revolving around addictive substances and a repressed identity. Instead, Schemers is a heartfelt if tame comedy, which touches on more serious themes, such as when David and his friends run into problems with local gangsters.
Unfortunately, for a film heavily based around the music of the period, Schemers is not very musical. Rather it focuses on the business side of things, which offers an insight into a young entrepreneur’s mind and savviness, but fails to appropriately explore the film’s unique setting and the music scene of the time. Subsequently, most conflict and dramatic situations stem from the protagonist’s financial situation instead of the relationship with his friends/business associates, and so the stakes never feel real or impactful.
Offering a rare view into one of Scotland’s more unknown cultural scenes, Schemers is a charming and original comedy. It might not be as daring or memorable, but it is guaranteed to get quite a few laughs.