"while perhaps not as fun or memorable as a mud-caked festival, is certainly a decent way to keep yourself entertained while your friends are away to Glastonbury"
From the sounds of the bands on stage blasting your eardrums to pieces with their sounds to the unholy sights and sounds of the festival toilets, music festivals are a fantastic sight and experience to behold.
However, if you’re like me and you don’t go to festivals because of those very same things, then look no further than Access All Areas, a coming of age festival comedy that, while perhaps not as fun or memorable as a mud-caked festival, is certainly a decent way to keep yourself entertained while your friends are away to Glastonbury.
A band of teens makes an impromptu getaway from the trials of their normal lives to the fantastical “Isle of Sound” music festival, an experience that sees them confronted with all the craziness, festivity, fun, love and friendship that the festival has to offer.
Newcomer Edward Bluemel takes on the leading role of Heath, a young man attempting to make up for past indiscretions and do right by his mum and his boss while also holding dreams of embarking on a music career. Bluemel with his affable personality coupled with an engaging and relatable story arc makes for a fine protagonist that is easy to get behind and easy to like. You want Heath to succeed in life and you want to see him overcome his shyness regarding his musical talents and conquer the stage.
Ella Purnell acts as our female lead as Mia, a young woman whose hard-partying life masks someone who is still struggling to cope with her mother’s passing. Purnell, like her co-star, is also a rather likeable screen presence that you can sympathise with and that you can’t help but be charmed by her affable and loveable personality. There is the odd moment where she does come off as a tad selfish and impulsive, but the character’s backstory and Purnell’s fine performance ensure that you never come to dislike the character and you can at least understand why she acts the way she does.
The film’s story is hardly anything original with it being a rather stock “coming of age” story about friends escaping the humdrum mundane nature of normal life and have some fun, with the “will they? won’t they? Of course, they will” romance story between Heath and Mia is a story trope so old you can find it on ancient cave paintings. Throw in the sub-plot of the teens being pursued by their more uptight parents who just need to “chill out man” and do so thusly, and the whole cliché cake that is this film’s story is complete.
If it’s been done before in a previous teen “coming of age” drama then you’ll see it done again in Access All Areas. However, despite the rather cliched nature of the story, I still found it to be fairly engaging and I did find myself rooting for the characters as they embarked upon their respective story arcs throughout the film.
The film is gifted with a quick pace that has the film’s rather short runtime flying by, with the more tedious elements of the film’s story being broken up with some decent short musical interludes or, as in one particularly memorable and surreal moment, Heath being harassed by a gang of escaped psychopaths dressed as Alice in Wonderland characters who never re-appear for the rest of the film. I want to see the film that those guys escaped from.
Access All Areas is a film that is one that I find myself slightly perplexed by; it’s not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s just fine. The cast is fine, the story while cliched is fine, the overall look and feel of the film are fine. The whole thing is just fine. But it’s not particularly memorable and by the time the credits rolled around I had a general feeling of “meh” about the whole thing. Again, it’s not a bad film, and there is a lot to like about the film, it’s just nothing special.
Overall, Access All Areas might not be the most original or memorable film in the world, but if you’re looking for a perfectly pleasant way to kill 90 minutes then this nice little film will do the job just fine.