It’s the summer of 1969 and two aspiring teenage singer-songwriters Meryl (Meg DeLacy) and Lorian (Willow Shields) are frustrated by their lack of prospects, tired of playing at retirement homes and birthday parties, the two best friends are looking to get some bigger gigs. An advert for Woodstock Music Festival inspires a road trip to New York in a bid to talk their way onto the stage and get their big break.
In and amongst the music, teenage rebellion and flared jeans are a lot of heavy hitting topics that are touched upon but not really explored to a satisfying degree, including sexual assault, underage drug use, the spark of a social awakening following the assassination of Martin Luther King and political unrest with regards to the Vietnam war. I think its great that director Leslie Bloom is trying to highlight these issues, many of which are still relevant in some regard today, but by including so many the impact has been watered down and don’t add much to the overall film.
The biggest thing that surprised me about this movie is that it has the air of something we have already seen a thousand times before but ends up taking you in a different direction to what you are expecting. Yes, the road trip symbolises a journey of self-discovery for the two girls but the final destination is not where we, as viewers, expected to end up, and honestly, that is quite refreshing.
Whether due to budget constrictions or by design, Woodstock or Bust does not have the sleek polished feel that we typically get in this day and age of cinema. Instead, we are given a film that is abrasive, a little jarring and ever so slightly uncomfortable to watch, but it is all the better for it.
This is also reflected in the relationship between the two leads, portrayed by DeLacy and Shields. Whilst they have a good chemistry on screen and it is clear that they care about each other, their relationship is far from perfect. As much as I liked Shields’ performance (you may remember her as Prim from The Hunger Games), her character left a bitter taste in my mouth. The film tries to offer a noble reason behind some of her behaviour but a lot of her actions were those of a petty child, and the level of peer pressure she put on her friend was actually uncomfortable to watch.
Overall, I am glad I had the chance to watch this film. It definitely makes for an interesting change from all the reboots and rehashes that are crowding our cinema screens at the moment, and at just an hour and a half runtime it is a pleasant way to pass the time. So grab the popcorn, settle in and enjoy.
Woodstock or Bust is distributed by TriCoast Entertainment and is now available to stream on digital streaming platforms (DirecTV, inDemand, Amazon, iTunes, Vimeo on Demand, Vudu, FANDANGO, Hoopla, AT&T, FlixFling, Google Play, Sling/Dish).