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Raunch and Roll

Critic:

Patrick Foley

|

Posted on:

14 Mar 2022

Film Reviews
Raunch and Roll
Directed by:
Phil Wurtzel
Written by:
Brendan Ragotzy
Starring:
Penelope Alex, Michael Pare, Lance Barber
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It feels like the 80s revival we collectively decided to make fashionable in the mid-2010s has, itself now faded away like the last remnants of Hulk Hogan’s credibility. That means 80s staples like glam rock, leather pants and entire cans’ worth of hairspray are once again found only with those who never gave up the rock’n’roll vibe that Kurt Cobain killed. Raunch and Roll is for those die-hards, but an endearing character-driven story at its centre will reach out to other fans.

 

Rock legend Roxy Starr (Penelope Alex) has recently received life-changing news, and alongside her manager Carl (Michael Pare) decides to head to the town she grew up in to in an effort to recruit her old band members who have long since left the rock’n’roll lifestyle behind, in order to pull off one last gig. On the way, she retraces her former life and the steps she took to get her where she is today.

 

Raunch and Roll hardly breaks any new ground with a by-the-numbers story that is predictable to the beat. But an affirming heart, and an effective portrayal of an original and engaging protagonist make this a more worthy film. Roxy’s awakening has already taken place prior to the film’s beginning, and her determined story of redemption and freedom is an enjoyable one. Where the film’s plot may be a tired skeleton seen many times before, there is a level of charm and comfort to the thematic relevance of a star stuck in the past undertaking the kind of story that has been told many a time. And whilst the story is hardly refreshing, seeing it told with a woman in the leading role is.

 

The story does a fine job of integrating flashback scenes from Roxy’s past in a way that adds real value to the story rather than bloating the plot. There is consistency between the performances of Penelope Alex and Melina Shiloh who both shine as Roxy at two ends of her life.

 

The film takes inspiration from other glam rock-era pieces such as The Dirt and Rock of Ages which harken back to an idealised version of the 80s sunset-strip – when rock reigned supreme. The contrast of Roxy in the present day, where she stands out amongst the residents of her sleepy hometown, and the past scenes when smoke, sex and spandex is immersed everywhere you look, shows that Roxy is not ready to let the past go just yet. The film does an admirable job of setting the scene on its smaller budget – and we’ll just assume that the wigs are intentionally that terrible…

 

The film suffers from poor technical production which cheapens it as an experience. The voice mixing compared to the sound of the music is wildly out of proportion, and viewers will be straining their ears to hear the dialogue – which at least effectively demonstrates what spending a life spent in front of amps turned to 11 would be like. Some scenes are awkwardly staged and framed like a soap opera, and a noticeable hue filtered over the screen throughout detracts much more than it adds. The film’s climactic gig is also laden with baffling split-screen edits and morphing audio, which looks tacky and downright ridiculous. Even Spinal Tap would have thought it a little over-the-top.

 

Raunch and Roll’s heart is in the right place, and its story of an aging rocker after one last high is timeless for a reason – that being that there is always a willing audience for the quest to recapture lost youth. But much more refinement is needed to take this one from mid-afternoon slot to festival headliner.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Indie Feature Film, Amazon Prime, Music Video