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film review

A scene from Northern Soul

The titular underground dance phenomenon of 1970s working-class England focused on sets of rare and obscure 1960s American soul records. Although the two male leads here are strong, and Steve Coogan and lifelong soulie Lisa Stansfield have small parts, Elaine Constantine's drama is less a prosaic coming-of-age story (a misfit teen finds a creative outlet and makes his joe job bearable) and more an excuse to tell the story of the scene itself. It thrills because Constantine, a noted British photographer, shows instead of tells: Rich in period detail, it's as transportative to the shuffling spins, fashion subculture and euphoric, amphetamine-fuelled all-nighters of 1974 Lancashire and the cult-following DJs of the Wigan Casino as a documentary, turned up to 11.