Shot on location during Scotland’s annual T In The Park music festival, director David Mackenzie’s latest film probably seemed like a really great idea at the time. Detailing one craaaazy night in the lives of two young musicians who seem very different at the outset but then go on to find that they have some very important things in common, the film progressively limns their inherent emotional and sexual chemistry, which in turn causes them to question their place in this mixed-up grown-up world. I hate to make Tonight You’re Mine seem so pat and obvious, but it is so pat and obvious — sometimes achingly so. The immediacy and cheapness of emotion in this film provides for some truly giddy, intoxicatingly youthful moments, but they’re quickly followed by an uncanny emptiness that, if handled more deftly by the filmmakers — or even noticed at all — could’ve served as an interesting comment on both consumerism in general and the commodified rebellion of the modern festival circuit in particular.
Adam (Luke Treadaway) is the constantly sunglassed front-man of an electropop duo riding a wave of adulation resulting from the moderate success of their latest single. Morello (Natalia Tena) is a keyboard player and singer for a positive, free-spirited girl group which sadly almost entirely lacks development as an element in the story. Shot inventively enough, we first meet the two of them during a promotional video Adam and his bandmate are shooting in the back of a compact car, driving through T In The Park, passing festival goers left and right. After an altercation with Morello and her band, some weird old spiritual dude handcuffs Adam and her together to teach them a lesson about getting along and peace and harmony and… that’s pretty much the conceit of the film. Not sure whether to indulge in some of the more primal opportunities for classic slapstick presented by this handcuffed situation or to strive for something more cerebral, Mr. Mackenzie attempts to straddle the two. The result is altogether predictable and slightly boring.
The performances in this film are solid and sometimes inventive, and the slightly improvisational nature of the film, flowing naturally from the tight schedule of filming during a major music fest, creates lovely moments that linger and almost make up for the cloying, fake depth of the story and some of its more heavy-handed comedic and romantic bits. It’s interesting that Mackenzie, whose most celebrated work (Young Adam) is such a classic, noirish, formal piece, would essentially let the wheels fall off and attempt something free-form and spontaneous. One can applaud the effort, but the formal elements of Mackenzie’s past works creep into the narrative of Tonight You’re Mine and seem completely out of place.
The essentially tragic thing about Tonight You’re Mine (and quite a few music festivals, now that I think of it) is this way of dressing up despair and everydayness with the trappings of harmlessly reckless youth, providing the absolute maximum capacity for easy nostalgia in a neatly wrapped, all-inclusive weekend package. For all of its intoxicated hijinks and vaguely hedonistic elements, the film strikes a resoundingly hollow, oddly establishmentarian, and moralistic note about love and relationships. This isn’t dionysian. This is Disney.