Cinema Review – Lost in France

In 1997, a group of Glaswegian musicians, including The Delgados, Bis, Mogwai and Hubby, travelled to Mauron in France, to put on a concert showcasing the best of the Glasgow music scene. 18 years later, many of the instigators of the trip return to France, finding themselves not only on a nostalgia trip for their youths, but for the financial and political climate of the 1990s that allowed the music scene of Glasgow to flourish.

Lost in France is a film that is made for the fans of Glaswegian bands, who spent time in their youths listening to the borderline subversive music created by these bands. It is also a film that focuses on the climate that allowed the bands to flourish, as well as the record label set up by The Delgados, Chemikal Underground, which many of the bands in the film were signed to.

Throughout the film, musicians such as Stuart Braithwaite, Stewart Henderson, Alex Kapranos, Emma Pollock, Paul Savage and R.M. Hubbert (Hubby) discuss the time in their lives that they went to Mauron the first time, and what they remember now that they are going back, and what has changed in their lives and the world since they first visited.

Director Niall McCann has created a love letter, not only to the 1990s but also to the music that was allowed to flourish on the Chemikal Underground label. The interviews given by Mogwai and Emma Pollock (The Delgados) are particularly haunting, as they are moved by, haunted by and passionate about music, but they often find themselves struggling to survive financially as they follow the path that makes them the happiest.

Inevitably, Lost in France stirs up nostalgia in the audience; even if we were not following the bands and musicians in the film, it is hard to deny that the 1990s in the UK was a time when many bands came to the fore. That said, the film also inevitable struggles with being too personal for the musicians featured, so the audience always feels as though they are on the outside looking in, and never as though they are there with the musicians on the bus, stage or at the pub. There are some interesting and moving moments where Stewart Henderson (The Delgados) and Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand) discuss how being on the dole allowed these musicians to create the musical and social climate in which they flourished, and this could have been a strong backbone in a film that sorely needs one, but these are fleeting moments, easily dismissed.

In all, Lost in France is a nostalgias trip designed for the fans of the bands featured, and although there are some moving moments for the uninitiated, and the film will certainly stir up curiosity about The Delgados, Arab Strap, Mogwai and others, there is not enough structure to the film to allow it to function as a story for those who were never lucky enough to discover these bands the first time around.

Rating: 3/5

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