Where You’re Meant To Be review by Calum Maclean
Where You’re Meant To Be
Directed by Paul Fegan
Cast – Aidan Moffatt, Sheila Stewart
Running Time – 76 minutes
Due to be released on June 17, Where You’re Meant To Be is a funny and deeply poignant documentary exploring the conflict between tradition and innovation in the arts. Through the efforts of former Arab Strap frontman Aidan Moffatt to update Scottish folk standards with modern uncensored lyrics, the film tells a story of transition, both positive and melancholy, while at the same time reintroducing the audience to the ballads of our ancestors and to the legacy of Sheila Stewart.
This film is wonderfully pitched between sadness and comedy, with Moffat’s narration, (directly addressed to Stewart and reflecting on mortality), nicely contrasted with his raconteur personality on the road. Along with the viewer, Moffatt’s perspective on the old ballads is given a shake up from gleeful enjoyment in subverting the original lyrics to an awareness of the emotional resonance of these songs. We see performances in town halls, fetes, kitchens and clubs, with singing ranging from the trained to the amateur, but the effect remains the same. The film demonstrates the power in this music, evident with ancient or modern lyrics, through the reactions of listeners young and old, with hilarious, awkward, and often moving results.
The visual style is impressive throughout, with skilful use of archive footage woven through the narrative, expressive shots of rural landscapes transitioning into city night life, and some laugh out loud cut away reactions. These editing and directorial choices really enhance the tonal shifts in Moffat’s adventure, leading to a rousing final act in Glasgow that manages to combine humour and emotion to great effect.
Where You’re Meant To Be is a unique viewing experience. Well-paced and compelling throughout, this documentary highlights the expression of a disappearing way of life, while also making the case for new adaptations with wit and pathos. Whichever side of the debate you fall on, be it Moffat’s, Stewart’s or a mutually appreciative common ground, this “funny wee film about music and death” is a gem and is not to be missed.
Calum Maclean, 29 May, 2016.
Where You’re Meant To Be will be screened in UK cinemas from 17 June. The cinema release will be accompanied by a live event tour, presenting Q&As and performances with Aidan Moffat and the film’s director and producer Paul Fegan. whereyouremeanttobe.com
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