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There is not now, nor is there likely ever to be, a shortage of films highlighting the awkward, confusing, and restrictive nature of teenage life. Whether it’s “The Breakfast Club” or “Ladybird”; it’s a well-covered topic spanning generations, locations, and cultures. In many ways, “Beats” is no different in this regard, yet the new Scottish film, executive produced by Slamdance alumni Steven Soderbergh, both incorporates as well as transcends the classic tropes of the genre to tap into a menacing undercurrent that lives just beneath the surface of these stories. The end result is a genuine exploration of class, masculinity, and friendship set in a social and political cauldron many in 2019 might find familiar.
READ MORE: The 100 Most Anticipated Films Of 2019
Set - Scotland - Beats - Teenagers - Johnno
Set in 1994 Scotland, “Beats” follows teenagers Johnno (Cristian Ortega) and Spanner (Lorne Macdonald) throughout a couple of days as they navigate the choppy waters of their adolescence. Both young men are EDM fanatics, yet besides their age, the hobby is made more difficult due to the recent passage of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill. This new law has many components, but the most troublesome one for Johnno and Spanner is the one criminalizing, “gatherings around music characterized wholly or predominantly by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.”
Making matters worse, Johnno and his family will be moving away from the neighborhood in about a week, giving the young friends just one last chance to hit out and have a good time together during an upcoming underground rave. This is particularly important to Spanner, who knows that Johnno is getting pressure from his family to use the move to a new, better neighborhood as an opportunity to leave behind bad habits and old acquaintances. Were this any other film, this set-up might have been...
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