AMW Film Festival Review: Lost in France (UK, 2018) is a love letter to Scottish musicians Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand and more

What goes on tour stays on tour. Except if you’re the Scottish artists who feature in Lost in France. This music documentary is a boozy and breezy look back at a once-forgotten, 1997 Brittany tour. The artists reunite again in 2015 and in doing so, prove that some things – like friendship – never change.

The main subject of this film is the cult record label, Chemikal Underground. It was formed by a group of trailblazers who often feel a little like Factory Records in that both had a DIY-ethic and they each signed up their mates. Stewart Henderson of The Delgados speaks on behalf of the label because he is now their historian, archivist and a part-owner.

In 1997 groups like Mogwai, The Delgados and The Karelia (fronted by Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos) hopped on a bus with 54 of their nearest and dearest. The destination? A small town in Brittany, France. It is unclear whether this tour was a financial success, but this film shows it certainly looked like one fun and wild adventure.

Irish filmmaker Niall McCann directs here. He has also made a documentary about English songwriter, Luke Haines. Lost in France is like a love letter to the Scottish musicians who feature here, and it also feels quite fly-on-the-wall and intimate. At times you feel like you’re invading their personal space, as these artists recall – from the back of the bus – how they almost lost a colleague or that hungover football game they played. There is some assumed knowledge and at times you will feel like you’re an outsider gate-crashing a conversation, because you won’t understand all of the in-jokes or the lingo.

The soundtrack to this film is excellent and a big drawcard for it. Mogwai and Franz Ferdinand feature but in Kapranos’s case, this film is about showing what Alex did before his more commercial venture. It is enjoyable but don’t expect to hear much beyond a little of “Jacqueline.” One refreshing thing though, is how down-to-earth everyone is and how there appears to be no egos. These guys and gals are all likeable people and this is one pleasant way to spend 100 minutes.

This film feels a little like Trainspotting 2 with some hard-drinking, 40-year old musicians playing the roles of the recovered or active drug addicts. Everyone is a little older and perhaps a little wiser but what is obvious is that the camaraderie is still there. They also have their shared, debauched memories (if they can remember them!) The anecdotes are thick, fast and funny and the result is an amusing and warm reflection on creativity, music and artistry. Who said they only worked when they needed the money? Oh wait…

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Lost in France screens as part of the Australian Music Week Film Festival, which is held on November 10th and 11th at the GU Film House in Cronulla, NSW. For more information head here: https://australianmusicweek.com/film

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Natalie Salvo

My writing portfolio can be found at: https://nataliesalvo.wordpress.com/

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