Cambridge educated Granada TV presenter, Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan) is one of a handful of people attending an early Sex Pistols gig in Manchester in 1976. Inspired by this moment in rock history, he and some friends set up a unique record label, Factory Records, which signs a declaration in blood; it shall not bind its artists nor own their works. They sign up Joy Division (who go on to become New Order), and then come Happy Mondays. Wilson and co also open the most ambitious dance club ever, The Hacienda. It’s popular, but loses money in large quantities. By November 1992, the party’s over.
 

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Steve Coogan is mesmerising as Tony Wilson in all his wonderful manifestations.

Tony Wilson, Steve Coogan, is a reporter for Granada TV, based in Manchester, England. In June, 1976, Tony and his wife, Lindsay, Shirley Henderson, go to a sparsely attended concert featuring a new band called The Sex Pistols. At the time, punk music didn't get airplay on national TV, but Tony is so impressed he starts plugging The Pistols and eventually begins to manage bands and find a venue for them, while keeping his day job.

Michael Winterbottom, who comes from Manchester, never makes the same kind of film twice. His CV includes the Thomas Hardy adaptation, Jude, the political drama, Welcome To Sarajevo, the London based relationship film, Wonderland, and the western, The Claim. 24 Hour Party People is a tribute to a city, Manchester, and to a time of change, both socially and musically, as punk gives way to rave.

As a very affectionate recreation of an era, with its highs and its lows, its exhilarating moments of triumphs and its tragedies, the film is a complete success. Steve Coogan, a TV personality, frequently steps out of character to talk directly to the camera, pointing out real-life people who are appearing in cameo roles, including the real Tony Wilson, and even suggesting scenes that didn't make it into the cinema cut will probably be on the DVD. This is much more than just a music film; thanks to the winning performance of Coogan, and Winterbottom's innate sense of humour, 24 Hour Party People is consistently amusing; and Robby Muller's digital video camerawork, transferred to film, captures the spirit of musical history in the making.