The unbelievably true story of one man, one movement, the music and madness that was Manchester.
An ingenious docudrama on the Manchester music scene of the 1980s and '90s. 24 Hour Party People traces the rise and fall of bands like Joy Division, New Order, and Happy Mondays--bands whose success in the U.S. was limited, but whose impact in Europe (and England in particular) was phenomenal. It all centers around the record label that spawned these bands, Factory Records, and its impresario Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan), a man both ludicrous in his self-absorption and brilliant in his willingness to go out on a limb for bands he likes. Coogan, a British comic, gives a remarkable and deeply funny performance that manages to be simultaneously sincere and ironic. The movie communicates what was great about this time without any false majesty--the squalor and disasters are as crucial to this portrait as the wild successes. The soundtrack, of course, is superb. --Bret Fetzer