GFF 2021: Creation Stories Review
Making its World Premiere at GFF21, Creation Stories is the wild true account of Creation Records, the coolest record label of all time, and the man behind the madness, Alan McGee. Written by Irvine Welsh, and directed by Nick Moran, the film charts McGee’s rise from his humble beginnings in Glasgow, hitting the big time in London, and then the discovery of Oasis, an event which would literally change British pop culture forever.
The film begins at the height of Creation Records fame and notoriety. Oasis are the biggest band in the world, and Alan McGee (a terrific Ewen Bremner), the man who discovered them, is a coked-up alcoholic mess on his way to be interviewed in LA. This opens the door for us to flashback to the 70s, as Alan tells us the story of how he got here. In a nice meta touch, the script knowingly acknowledges that this is a biopic, and certain generic conventions cannot be avoided.
The opening scenes of young Alan (played in flashback by Leo Flanagan) in Glasgow are an absolute blast. The patter with his miserable bastard father (Richard Jobson) and spiteful grandmother is genuinely hilarious. And whilst it falls just short of the similar moment in Terri Hooley biopic Good Vibrations, the scene where Alan discovers punk music for the first time (seeing the Sex Pistols on TV) is truly affecting, and comes with a killer punchline.
The film moves at a breakneck pace, taking in Alan’s move to London, and ticks off all the key moments you would expect in the story of Creation Records: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, the birth of rave and house music. Then of course, the now legendary Oasis moment. You walk a fine line when depicting those iconic moments in pop history, but Moran stays just about on the right side by keeping the focus on McGee.
It also helps that Irvine Welsh’s script, co-written with Dean Cavanagh doesn’t let the truth get in the way of a good yarn, and believe me the film is all the better for it. Creation Stories shares quite a bit of DNA with Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People, in that it recognises there is a myth and a legend around this era, this record label, and this man, and quite rightly just runs with it. It’s also stealthily political throughout, right up until the final act when it swerves into a bitter rebuke of the political and corporate establishment which the Britpop era helped to usher in.
Moran’s film is the classic biopic rags to riches tale, with all the usual trappings of fame, hedonism, and addiction, but it knows that, and still feels fresh and fun. Perhaps I’m biased towards it (this was very much the music of my teenage years) but I had a great time with Creation Stories. Witty, fast-paced, hilarious, and with an awesome soundtrack. It also surely has a contender for maddest cameo of the year. I loved this film. I wish I could have seen it with an audience at a packed Glasgow Film Theatre.