Director David Mackenzie’s rock ’n’ roll rom-com Tonight You’re Mine is a prime example of a movie whose setting must compensate for an absence of any actual merit. While Mackenzie’s story of boy-girl musicians who fall in love bores and confounds with its ineptness, his surroundings—Scotland’s mammoth T in the Park festival—keeps us nominally hooked with its youthful, chaotic energy.
An outdoor rock festival would seem a perfect backdrop for a movie drunk on themes of romance and the bohemian ideal of love as creative muse. Add in the pressures, egos and anxieties of band life, and Mackenzie and writer Thomas Leveritt would seem to have the ingredients for a quirky, combustible scenario. The characters fit the bill too: Adam (Luke Treadaway), the hipster-singer for the electro-pop duo, The Wake, takes an instant dislike to the brash Morello (Natalia Tena) of the all-girl punk band, The Dirty Pinks. Their trash talking meet-cute comes to an abrupt halt when a puckish security officer slaps a pair of handcuffs on the squabbling rockers and flits away with the key.
As it becomes clear that the characters (and the movie) are going to stay confined to those handcuffs, bumbling around for a way to break out of them, any hope and goodwill previously felt for this movie seeps away. By trading on the handcuff shtick for much of its running time, Mackenzie goes to a trough already exhausted by numberless sitcoms and old-time slapstick shorts, earning zero laughs and squandering all the high-energy potential of his story.
The plot rigidly adheres to formula as Adam and Morello’s annoyance with each other melts away and they fall for one another. There are significant others—Adam’s fresh-out-of-rehab girlfriend, Lake (Ruta Gedmintas) and Morello’s stuffed-shirt banker-boyfriend, Mark (Alastair Mackenzie)—who show up to complicate things before dropping away. And while Adam and Morello sort out their feelings, Adam’s genial band mate Tyko (Mathew Baynton) wanders the grounds in his own quest for love (or least a hook-up) with his gruff, drunken band manager at his heels.
Tonight You’re Mine is pap of the dullest variety, a series of stitched-together rom-com tropes tweaked for the rock ’n’ roll set. Viewers quickly tire of the set-up and, once that happens, the movie has nothing to offer but safe scenes of barely interesting banter and half-hearted, unfunny one-liners. Part of the problem is that the characters are under-developed: Adam and Morello never materialize as distinct, deeply felt individuals—they are mere sketches from which Treadaway and Tena make vain attempts to spark humor and personality. Scene after scene is chewed up by Treadaway’s sulky, half-dazed delivery and Tena’s game efforts to breathe vitality into their moments together. The supporting characters are props to be amused by and dispensed with in quaint, uncomplicated fashion—both Lake and Mark’s fates consist of soft, convenient landings, and Tyko is just a tool for bland comic relief.
Mackenzie is so determined to make a winsome romantic fable that he either neglects (or fails) to inject anything of lasting human value into this material; Tonight You’re Mine never affords its characters (nor its viewers) the grief, pain or suspense that are the nitty-gritty of love and life. For lack of anything to latch onto, viewers find their attention drifting into the movie’s background, to the sights and sounds of the festival where the real fun is going on.
Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Thomas Leveritt
Starring: Luke Treadaway, Natalia Tena, Alastair Mackenzie, Kari Corbett, Sophie Wu
Release Date: May 11, 2012