Music not only has the ability to capture our feelings, aspirations and yearnings, but can also transport and connect us to different places, people and events. This is the central idea in the new musical film, GREATEST DAYS.
The film follows the story of five school friends who have the night of their lives at a concert from their favourite boy band. Growing up in Lancashire in 1993, 16-year-old Rachel (Lara McDonnell) and her gang of four best friends – Debbie (Jessie Mae Alonzo), Claire (Carragon Guest), Zoe (Nandi Hudson) and Heather (Eliza Dobson) – idolise the boy band they tune in religiously every week to watch on Top Of The Pops.
When feeling anxious or troubled, Rachel even summons The Boys – played by Aaron Bryan, Dalvin Sol, Joshua Jung, Mark Samaras and Mervin Noronha – from her imagination and into her reality. When they appear, the world around her comes alive, turning the mundane into the magical. Their songs are used to mute the monotony and disappointments of childhood, as the boys appear from cupboards and in the reflections to offer a constant imaginary companionship to Rachel and her friends.
Some 25 years later Rachel (played in this other timeline by Aisling Bea) wins a local radio competition to see The Boys on their reunion tour in Greece. She decides to reconnect with the teenage best friends she hasn’t spoken to for decades and invites the modern-day Claire (Jayde Adams), Zoe (Amaka Okafor) and Heather (Alice Lowe) along for the experience.
The story flashes back and forth between 1996, with the girls at the height of their friendship and fandom, and present-day Athens, where the four women are struggling to reconnect after spending their entire adult lives apart.
Plans for the film was originally announced by Take That members Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald following the success of their West End musical The Band. However, the British pop legends, who have sold over 14 million albums in a career that, over 33 years, has featured 28 top 40 singles and eight Brit awards amongst a host of other accolades, were clear that the film was not about them, but rather those who were ultimately responsible for their success – their fans. The band, who recently performed a song titled Greatest Day alongside Calum Scott at the Coronation of King Charles, worked closely with this production as it has reimagined their music for cinema audiences and makes a cameo appearance in the film.
Directing the adaptation is multi-BAFTA-winning Coky Giedroyc. “GREATEST DAYS is a movie about many things. It’s a movie about life, love and loss; how the mates and memories we make as teenagers will stay with us always, somewhere deep inside. It’s a love letter to friendship,” she says. “It’s also a movie about music. Specifically, the power that songs have to transport us, wherever and whenever we are in our lives, back to the moment we first heard them. The moment we first felt them. A movie that reminds us to never lose sight of the person we were in that moment, and the person we could maybe still become.”
Writer Tim Firth echoes this. “The film is not about Take That, the band. It’s not even about their songs specifically. It’s about music. About the power of music at one time in your life to absorb everything at that time. Your loves, your losses, your quarrels. What built you.”
The incredible musical sequences in GREATEST DAYS are choreographed to brilliantly reimagined new versions of Take That’s biggest songs by Olivier Award-winning choreographer Drew McOnie. “The music of Take That is deeply bound into the identity of this film; the optimism, the aspiration, the empathy, the sensuality, and the physicality that drives like blood through the course of it. While the film isn’t about them, it is about that feeling of when you heard that music for the first time and how that impacted your life.”
GREATEST DAYS is a heart-warming film which deals with the universal themes of friendship, fandom, loss and reconciliation. According to Firth, the film’s title is a reminder to us all that what once gave us joy can still help us to find it, and that we’ve got a lot to learn from our younger selves. “It’s a film about the past and the future and how the two intertwine. It’s also about the power of music and friendship and the people who have changed the way we think about the world,” he concludes.
GREATEST DAYS is distributed locally by Filmfinity (Pty) Ltd and opens in cinemas on 16 June 2023.
Watch the trailer here:
GREATEST DAYS can be seen at the following cinemas:
Labia Orange St., Cape Town
Whale Coast Theatre, Hermanus
Hyde Park, Johannesburg
Bayside, Cape Town
Blue Route, Cape Town
Brooklyn Commercial, Pretoria
Cavendish Commercial, Cape Town
Greenstone Mall, Johannesburg
Irene Mall, Pretoria
Rosebank Nouveau, Johannesburg
The Zone Rosebank, Johannesburg
V&A Waterfront, Cape Town