Today: February 28, 2024

Giles Borg’s 1234 tells the story of wannabe musicians as
sweat their way telesales towards fame. A potential cult classic that
stands out in its genre.

Pop Idol, X Factor and a host of other TV talent/reality shows have a
lot to answer for, placing too much emphasis on the business and not
enough on the music part of the music business. OK, most of the
finalists have vocal talent, except for a certain set of Irish twins,
but no more so than lots of people slogging it out day-to-day on stages
and in clubs up and down the country. To be fair, the record companies
are as much to blame; they want instant stars, and those shows are a
breeding ground for people looking for instant stardom. But what about
the people who want to make original music?

Giles Borg’s little indie Brit flick addresses this question as it
follows a young London band, the eponymous 1234, as they struggle to get
an elusive recording contract. Stevie (Ian Bonar) and Neil (Mathew Baynton
Telstar, Gavin and Stacy) work together in a telesales call centre, but
in their spare time they are the guitarist and drummer in a band in
need of members. They meet Billy (Keran Bew – The Street), a
talented guitarist who is between jobs and bands, and Stevie convinces
him to join their band. Billy brings his friend Emily (Lyndsey Marshal
Being Human) in as bass player, and they begin rehearsing with the
intention of cutting a demo disc. Amongst the band’s struggles to make
music is a touch romance as Stevie falls for bass-player Emily, and in a
quiet moment together he tells her, “I’m single from choice, just not
my choice”.

Being a British indie film, it is the antithesis of Hollywood underdog films such as School of Rock, or even Alan Parker’s The Commitments
– in fact, commitment is part of the issue. This film is all about
practising in empty church halls, playing dirty, empty pubs, and working
a soul-destroying day job, without the big happy ending: the ending is
even a little ambiguous. It is about not being able to say what you
mean.

While this all sounds very grim and new-wave realist, it is actually
quite light-hearted and witty, although it is not a comedy per se. The
film actually lacks the grey and grime usually associated with British
urban movies, which helps keep the overall mood light. Director Borg
comes from a music scene background, and his band is actually featured
in the film, along with some indie favourites such as Comet Gain and
Betty and the Werewolves. He has also constructed the film like an
album, dividing it into tracks, each a vignette from the overarching
story, which works really well within the scope of the film.

This is a well-made, fun, British indie film that puts the reality back into music movies.


Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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