Published Sep 22, 2015Based on the 2008 cult novel by industry cynic John Niven, Owen Harris' feature length directorial debut Kill Your Friends chiefly concerns itself with Steven Stelfox (played expertly here by every Anglophile's favourite young actor, Nicholas Hoult), an A&R man at a lavish London record company trying to navigate the tricky terrain that is the post Britpop boom. The Gallagher brothers' reign of terror is almost over, and as Girl Power and big beat begin to take hold of the nation's youth, Stelfox must find a hit single to help usher in the era of opulent, derivative British pop stars.
There's just one problem: Stelfox doesn't really seem to like music. He hates bands, sees CDs as only a commodity and would rather be snorting coke with some new female friends than catching a set by the next big act. But Stelfox sees himself as some sort of Gordon Gekko-esque modern day gladiator, one whose warrior spirit makes him the rightful heir to the top of the A&R throne.
So, when one of his booze-swilling, drug-sniffing friends (played by James Corden) wins his dream job at the label they both work for, he takes matters into his own hands and decides, much like Patrick Bateman before him, to kill him and destroy everyone else who stands in his way.
The premise is ludicrous, but you'll be hard pressed to find a better film that looks at the over zealousness and self-seriousness of those found in the more lucrative side of the music business, and how intrinsically funny their motives and decision-making can be.
For those who watched Hoult grow up on Skins, consider this a return to Berkshire-bred actor's old ways, as he plays Stelfox with the same Machiavellian ease found in Tony Stonem's earlier, more confident days. But the strength of the film undoubtedly lies in the script, which was written by the book's original author and, as such, makes every single line sound more natural than they should be, even when multiple characters find themselves in a bidding war for a European club anthem whose hook coolly asks the listener "Why don't you suck my fucking dick?"
It's a dirty, poignant and downright hilarious film, and even funnier if you've ever felt the sting of the often absurd music industry.