Student Critic Finegus Stockting reviews
(David McLean, UK, 2019)
Proudly made in Dundee, Schemers is a 1970s Scottish rock-inflected romp, following the adventures of three lads getting their teenage kicks through music promotion – and the drug dealing, philandering and gambling that come with it. Based on writer-director David McLean’s own youthful experiences, the film casts three relative/complete newcomers as the leads, which is entirely fitting for a film about up-and-coming bands.
After an opening montage with a freeze-frame visual style harking back to the beginning of Trainspotting, cheeky young scamp Davie – played by Conor Berry in his debut role – sets about organising a disco in a bid to win the affections of Shona (Tara Lee), the beautiful nurse who looks after him in hospital.
Making a fair whack, the boys realise they’re onto a good thing and set about hiring bigger and better upcoming bands, which include the likes of Simple Minds, Thin Lizzy and Madness. This success comes at a price though, with their profits halved by the hardened criminals running the venues.
Schemers has the sheen of its lead's worldly idol, George Best – bad boy smiles and charm glossing a story that was likely rougher than it appears here. That’s all academic though. Schemers doesn’t want to be that movie – although it’s notable that its female characters don’t receive the same touch up that the rest of the story does. That aside, as a fast-paced piece with a catchy soundtrack and an off-hand delivery, representative of the boy's simplistic life approach, it largely succeeds.