Film:  Killing Bono

Year:  2011

Director:  Nick Hamm

Bonus:  Introduction by Neil McCormick

Other Info: Special preview for  Telegraph Subscriber Film Club members + me/others

Venue:  The May Fair, London

Similarly to my Tweet immediately following the film, I say…Love him or Loath him, Bono should be proud. But…Of himself…? U2..? Well, the film.

And…So what if it’s storyline veers very much into cliche in places and towards the close of the picture – It’s a very good effort.

But anyway, from the end of the film…to the beginning of the evening:

I’d seen a trailer for this once or twice…in fact, I believe a couple of times in the Show Film First’s “Online Opinion Former’s Showcase” day alone, all that time ago in December 2010:

Note: Whilst going back in time regarding the latter, you may wish to note [or may not] that I actually saw this preview in March, albeit the 31st – and it wasn’t out in cinemas until April, albeit the 1st. It was no April Fools – and this paragraph is no Joke…but I do try…!

I was intrigued and interested to find out what this latest (for me, at least) picturehouse was like, let alone the picture. One thing I get to sample by seeing so many films is the venues they’re shown in. The May Fair hotel, London, is no exception to the testament as to how nice a screening room can be.

I doubt a stay here gets more expensive in many other hotels in London, but my stay was not an overnight one – it was an over-the-evening one.

Final paragraph on the venue, I promise. In a swanky but also (too) loud bar, I order a small bottle of Coca Cola prior to the start of the movie. Only £3.90??!!! Well, who cared…I had plenty of time so perhaps I could justify this with the ‘money is time’ slogan. Or ‘time is money’. Anyway, if this caffeine wasn’t enough [for this guy who’s going through a non-alcoholic stage] I popped out for a coffee to have with the movie too. Bad move? Caffeine-wise…No. Fluid-wise…yes.

Well, some movies are worth crossing legs for, I discovered later.

I guess the introduction (by a member of The Telegraph newspaper) to the writer of the original material didn’t help this ultimate leg-crossing. This original material being the book “I Was Bono’s Doppelgänger” and this writer a one Neil McCormick.

Neil is essentially the main character (played by Ben Barnes) although its as much about his brother, Ivan (Robert Sheehan) as himself…and you could say its partly about Bono. However, as always I’m not one to even like the idea of giving a hint of spoilers. On the subject of ‘hinting’ Neil did do such a thing to this audience – he nodded towards the notion of poetic license. I’ll leave you – as and when you see this movie – to guess where such license may appear in the film.

Neil’s pre-picture tale about his life was interesting. It’s indeed a true story, to a degree. Neil is the chief rock music critic for the The Telegraph, incidentally.

Did I mention later crossing my legs? Indeed, but its your fingers you’ll have crossed as the movie gets under way and deeper into the story – fingers crossed that Neil and brother, Ivan make it as a successful band, even though they would never reach U2’s level of stardom…or would they?

Neil McCormick also told us that the screenplay was (mostly) written by Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais. Yes, that worldwide known writing duo who have been around for so many years, involved in sitcoms & movies. Neil’s revelation of this duo was realised in the credits, of course. Although I don’t recall seeing Neil being recognised in the titles as original author. That’s almost all I have to say about the scripting of this story, except to say that as funny as it was much of the time I couldn’t help but think how easy it was for Clement & La Frenais to do. Jealous? Me? No, a part of me just wished that the screenplay had been by someone else, even a newcomer…but I guess they needed ‘sure-fire hit’ written over it. I mean, you can’t really judge a screenplay by C & LF, apart from complimenting it…but that just seems so easy. Hollywood do it a lot though. I believe they even had an uncredited hand in the ‘funny parts’ of “Con Air” – Can you believe it?

A lovely setting followed the titles and reminisce I did. It was Dublin but the references to my English childhood were much on show…right down to the square brown biscuit tin…You’ll remember these being ‘everywhere’ back in the day! (well, a few of you will)

We do get to see a bit of U2 but what kind of film would “Killing Bono” be if they didn’t touch on this? Elaborate I want to, but go and see the film for yourself & you will be happy to see more than enough reference to U2 and even their musical progression. My lips are sealed, other than that.

Thats a nice segway to remind myself and tell YOU about the music. What? U2’s Music? Err…No, I think you all know that…and even if you don’t know every one of their songs, you know when Bono’s voice is heard, immediately that THAT is U2. I am referring to the music in the movie. Now, there is incidental music – many tracks here and most of them you’ll recognise (and I don’t mean U2 ones) – and there is of course music by ‘the band’. Well, I will say the following:

I’d seen certain comments about the soundtrack, and essentially on Twitter – in the style of “OMG How good is the Killing Bono soundtrack – I must get it” – and I was fearing that it may be a little The-Commitments-esque. ‘Fearing’ because I was never a big fan nor were all their tunes originals. This band’s songs are NOT like The Commitments…

And I don’t know if it was this particular theatre screen, within The May Fair, but the sound was truly loud, pumping and accompanied by a rocking beat. Seriously, the floor was vibrating.

The tunes are exactly that…TUNES! Tuneful, melodic and lyrical, albeit written by someone else but actually sung by star Ben Barnes. I was surprised as I thought they were using another person’s vocals but oh no. I would go as far as to say it was ‘unbelievable’ that Ben was both actor and singer.

The music styles are different to fit the band’s ever-changing image. I mean, c’mon this was the 80’s (mostly) and popstars were trying to dress like whomever they could to get in front of a crowd. Pick a music style and it’s probably here.

The movie has everything: teenage angst, girls, a smidgen of romance & even a kind of mafia touch. Oh and what would it be, if it were a British motion picture without the token American character…?

A couple of other touches I noted – apart from ye olde biscuit tin – were: 1) The two brothers are hard up on luck & cash in a sparse abode…so…Withnail & I sprang to mind. 2) A similar scene but Neil war…I mean wore…a “Fuck War” t-shirt. Was this intentional and an anti-U2 statement regarding their album called Wore…I mean “War”…?

Finally, and therefore towards the end of the movie we see both brothers (one antagonist and one protagonist) having learned a few lessons and not necessarily resolved matters in their way, but well, this is Hollywood…so make of it what you will, please.

While, as in any film the two characters stumble and resolve any issues they may have, they do this here as one, Ivan is beginning to look like an almost mirror version of Julian Casablancas and the other, Neil looking a bit like…err…Jesus.

You know what though? These on-screen brothers and two stars are not the pairing who I would necessarily say you should look out for here. No, the two I would suggest are the two very different Petes. That is, Peter Serafinowicz [for his character, think a slightly more modern-day rock manager, a la Spinal Tap’s Ian] and the late Pete Postlethwaite. This is also the latter’s final film role. Well done both Peters for bringing your very own takes on two very different characters. Petes? Are you listening? Yes, U 2 ‘Peters’…I’m talking about U 2.

This review is for Pete Postlethwaite.