Written by: Robin C. Farrell | February 25th, 2022
Creation Stories (Nick Moran, 2021) 2 out of 4 stars.
Despite its best efforts to be something new, Creation Stories is a generic biopic of Alan McGee, who founded the British independent record label Creation Records. The film starts off with a compelling energy that, despite all else, is maintained throughout its nearly two-hour running time. Starting out with McGee (born in 1960) as a young and enthusiastic lover of rock and roll, the movie follows his life through to the present, and wavers between a personal, rags-to-riches story and scrutiny of the music business as a whole.
The film’s beginning showcases a fluid blend of comedy and charm, of both the light and dark variety, in large part thanks to Leo Flanagan (Rare Beasts) as the young Alan, as well as his compatriots. There’s a lack of preciousness that we’ve seen in recent musician biopics that feels fresh and, due to the pacing style, the infusion of archival footage doesn’t feel jarring. It fits right in. But the strong start doesn’t last. The casual, candid tone is just not sustainable. Over the duration, it devolves into yet another tale of music culture that spirals into drugs, depression, and the ruination of something that started so innocently. The energy and visual flair remain but the fame and wild trips just start to feel tiresome.
The film’s meta-structure doesn’t avoid the question to be found in most biopics: how much authenticity is necessary? How much artistic license can and should be taken to tell a good story out of context? In this case, director Nick Moran (The Kid) certainly seems to know the subject matter and the culture, and has a clear, stylistic vision. Even with its robust first act, however, Creation Stories becomes inaccessible to those of us who don’t have a connection to the material. This is clearly intended for a very specific audience, which is unfortunate. Brief moments of humanity and sincerity that manage to feel earned get abandoned almost immediately. A through line of McGee’s relationship with his father or family overall would have been just as overdone but it may have offered a little more depth. The seeds of it are already there.
As a protagonist (for all intents and purposes), McGee may succeed and fail in equal measure, aided and deterred by addiction and selfishness, but it is all done with a visual panache and self-assuredness. Does he actually learn anything in the context of this film? Does he grow? Hard to say, though I’m doubtful, judging by a line about rehab and rock and roll towards the end. If you have no connection to the label’s history, let alone the person running it, there’s not much to be found here. Nevertheless, if this particular music scene happens to appeal, then check this one out. You are far less likely to be disappointed.