Rotterdam Film Review: ‘Beats’

  • Variety
A snappy, scrappy, straining-at-the-leash coming-of-ager from bleakest Scotland, Brian Welsh’s “Beats” takes place in 1994 — two years before the release of “Trainspotting,” though 23 years on, it feels like something of an heir to Danny Boyle’s Nineties yardstick. The same spirit of raggedly exuberant, techno-pumped nihilism courses through both films. It’s something of a jolt, then, to realize that while Boyle’s film was an of-the-moment youth revolt, “Beats” is an alternately wistful and furious period piece — looking back at an unstable, exciting era of Cool Britannia and incipient cultural liberation that stalled somewhere along the way to Brexit Britain. That’s the subtext, at least: the surface is a rollicking buddy movie, both funny and stomach-churning as it follows two gawky 15-year-old lads seeking a debauched sendoff to childhood.

The liveliest work to date from Scottish writer-director Welsh (following the feature “In Our Name” and some prominent TV
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