Whether it’s Indie, Jazz, Hip-Hop or dance, everyone has a favourite kind of music as well as a preferred way to enjoy it. Do you listen via iTunes, do you buy the psychical albums or are you a vinyl lover? Well, director Jeremy Wooding (“Blood Moon”, “The Magnificent Eleven”) might belong to that last group. He based his latest film “Burning Men” on a special vinyl collection. With a beating soundtrack, the movie turned out to be completely unique, edgy, smart but sadly a tad too confusion one.
Ray (Edward Hayter) and Don (Aki Omoshaybi) are two best friends and bandmates. Dreaming of becoming professional musicians, they start a band called “Burning Men” but sadly the one much-needed breakthrough hasn’t happened yet. They want to give it a final try and decide to make a road trip to the US. They start selling everything they have to be able to make the money, starting with their vinyl collection.
After selling as much as they can and discovering (or much ratter: stealing) an exceptionally rare vinyl, they head off to the States. It soon becomes clear that the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll lifestyle” is one that suits them perfectly. Playing gigs, meeting girls and partying. Ray and Don have the time of their lives.
However, their dream is about to turn into a nightmare when the huge amount of drugs set in and when the rare vinyl owner is out for revenge. As if things aren’t bad enough, Ray is suffering from hallucinations and Don is about to give up on his best friend.
Will they have to put away their American dream forever and head back to the UK empty handed or will they achieve something that little of us can: Becoming professional musicians?
When you think about special road movies, films like “Y tu mamá también”, “The Motorcycle Diaries” and “Little Miss Sunshine” might pop into your head and from now on also “Burning Men”. The music is without a doubt the heart of this film. Whether it’s provided by our two protagonists in their recording studio or whether it’s a score from an external source, there’s almost no scene without music.
It’s no slow, quiet or soft soundtrack but an immensely rock ‘n roll and upbeat one. One that will keep you going throughout the entire movie, even during the slower scenes.
Imagine going on a road trip from the UK to the US with one of your best friends. All the time you spend together. There will a big amount of marvelous moments during which your friendship will shine but undoubtedly, there will also be frustration, distress, and difficulties. One thing is for sure: the friendship will be tested like nothing else.
In “Burning Men”, we can definitely feel that thanks to both Edward Hayter (“Daughter”, “Grounds”) and Aki Omoshaybi (“Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi“, “The Riot Club”).
During our interview with Hayter, he mentioned that he and Aki got on really well during the whole shoot and it’s clear that that chemistry was there indeed. Both men deliver enthralling performances filled with a lot of emotions and musical talent.
Elinor Crawley (“Vikings” (TV series), “Burgundy”) brings the rock-chick vibe to this film as Susie, a female artist from the US who’s enjoying every day like it’s her last one. We won’t spoil you what impact Susie has on the men so you’re going to have to find it out for yourself.
The acting is interwoven with another element that makes from this movie such as a fabulous one: The unique style of filming and the engaging camera point of view.
A lot of scenes are filmed in (very) close up due to which you feel like you’re in the head of the leading characters and that you’re with them along the entire way. That “what would I do if I was in their position” question keep on running through your mind, especially when the fourth wall between the actors and the audience is (almost) torn down entirely.
The dark and blackish colours that are being used are contributing plenty to the enigmatic and surreal story. It’s also pleasant to see the breath-taking UK landscape coming to life on the big screen.
Towards the end, the story gets a little bit lost in all the sinister, (dark) magical and the experimental vibe of this film but apart from that, the movie is able to intrigue us the entire time.
“Burning Men” might not be everyone’s taste but if you’re into an eclectic, complex and quirky road movie in which a pumping soundtrack and engaging characters (and performances) are the heart, then this is something right up your street. Buckle up and get ready for the ride!