Greatest Days review: The Take That musical film is every bit as nicely generic as you’d imagine

Much like a classic Take That track, this is a film that cares much more for the display of emotion than it does its root cause

Clarisse Loughrey
Friday 16 June 2023 14:03 BST
Greatest Days trailer

Take That’s lyrics have always been rich with affecting but generic platitudes like “stop being so hard on yourself” and “we’ve come so far, and we’ve reached so high”. Greatest Days, Coky Giedroyc’s big screen transfer of “the official Take That musical”, finds an equally broad theme on which to pin itself: how the glue that holds together young female friendships can often be a shared fixation.

In this case, it’s a fictional boy band only ever referred to as “the boys” (played by Aaron Bryan, Dalvin Cory, Joshua Jung, Mark Samara and Mervin Noronha) – they sing Take That’s entire back catalogue but, for mysterious reasons, are officially not Take That. Their white shirts, always unbuttoned, billow in the wind. Sometimes they wear leather harnesses. They’re somehow highly sexual and completely asexual at the same time, as all great boy bands are.

Rachel (Aisling Bea), a night-shift nurse in a tender but sterile relationship, wins a radio competition to see the band’s reunion concert in Athens. But she hasn’t been in touch with her girlhood pals in decades, a crew we see in a handful of spirited flashbacks (where Rachel is played by uncanny Bea lookalike Lara McDonnell). There’s Heather (Eliza Dobson), Zoe (Nandi Hudson), Claire (Carragon Guest), and, finally, the boisterous Debbie (Jessie Mae Alonzo).

We’re shown, through musical fantasy renditions of Take That hits such as “Pray”, “Could It Be Magic”, and “Everything Changes”, how the boys offered these teens a temporary respite from their dead-end Lancashire hometown. In the film’s strongest sequence, the band crawl out of cupboards and jeté off kitchen counters to help Rachel clean up a plate smashed during an argument between her parents.

But when the crew reunite – older now, and played by Alice Lowe, Amaka Okafor, and Jayde Adams – Debbie isn’t with them. It’s obvious what’s happened, but Greatest Days withholds her fate for pure narrative convenience. Much like a classic Take That track, this is a film that cares much more for the display of emotion than it does its root cause – the second it dares get specific, it risks losing that wide-scale relatability.

And so the women abruptly explode into conflict, as the boys croon “Greatest Day” and “Never Forget”, while their connection to this music is whittled away into something largely perfunctory. That, or it gets sidelined entirely for a tourist board ad for Athens (“It’s the friendliest city in the world!” they exclaim, their eyes twitching with desire to look right down the barrel of the lens). The women ultimately duet “Back for Good” with their teenage selves, but all it really does is remind us that we were all teenagers once and probably sad at some point. Still, it’s well-performed and efficiently emotive. Just like the music of Take That, I guess.

Dir: Coky Giedroyc. Starring: Aisling Bea, Lara McDonnell, Alice Lowe, Eliza Dobson, Amaka Okafor, Nandi Hudson, Jayde Adams, Carragon Guest, Jessie Mae Alonzo. 15, 112 minutes.

‘Greatest Days’ is in cinemas from 16 June

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in