Film: The Slab Boys 15 rating Year: 1997
 
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Country: UK Genre: Drama
Director: John Byrne
Starring: Robin Laing, Russell Barr, Bill Gardiner, Anna Massey, Tom Watson

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The Slab Boys Synopsis - The Slab Boys is set over a short period of time in a carpet factory in Paisley, Scotland in the mid to late fifties. It centres around three lads in their late teenage years who work in the slab room (a place where colors are mixed up on stone slabs). Phil is a teenage rebel who is using his time (when he is not getting up to pranks and back chatting to the bosses) in the slab room secretly putting together his portfolio so that he can try and get a scholarship for an art college. His best mate Spankie is his sidekick in the pranks, but he can not as rebellious as he knows he needs the job. The other slab boy is Hector, meek, nervous and "nerdy" he is more often than not the butt of the other two's pranks. Their time at work is spent dreaming (of Art college, being a pop star and going out with Lucille, the babe of the company) respectively, and of trying to avoid incurring the the ire of the boss. But will any of their dreams come true, or will the boredom and savagery of the slab room be their lot in life.

Review of The Slab Boys - The Slab Boys is a real peculiarity which, although being a fantastic piece of writing and ensemble acting, struggles to find its niche (which may suggest why this was never released on Video or DVD and has to my knowledge, only been shown on TV a couple of times). The film was written and directed by John Byrne (best known for his TV series "Tutti Frutti") and is squarely steeped in that whole late 50's period when the austerity years had started to give way to the era of the teenager and more specifically the the cult of the teenage rebel. I believe Slab Boys had already been a theatre play and a television play, and this film very much has the feeling of an adapted play - i.e. the dialogue is very theatrical. But also this influence was carried onto the dressing of the set of the film in that both the interior and exterior of the factory look very much like a theatrical set. The film has particularly odd soundtrack - namely scottish pop stars doing covers of 50's rock and roll classics (The Proclaimers "No Particular Place To Go" etc). Added to that is also a healthy dose of "the bratpack" films stylistic influence that had been popular in the proceeding years (think The Breakfast Club and Some Kind Of Wonderful) and this all adds up to a genuinely quite unique film.
The reasons I recommend The Slab Boys are (if you can find it on ebay or on a TV channel somewhere) : 1. A terrific story by John Byrne (that I am sure is even more powerful for anyone who was a teenager at the time). 2. The film, both in terms of visuals and dialogue, is particularly stylish 3. This film is really one of a kind.