Alan Newnham’s review published on Letterboxd:
New Labour. New Britain.
Departures and transitions.
On its surface Beats may only seem to be a nostalgic reminiscing of the beat-driven era of British dance music in the early nineties. But it quickly reveals itself to have greater depth as it touches upon the then emergence of Blair led 'New Labour' and class transformations. Our protagonist Johnno, his family and new step-dad, represent the then rapidly growing 'aspirational' working class - the soon to be middle class - whilst Johnno's friend Spanner represents the working class who were left behind. From the beginning, it's understood that none of this will last: the scene and era, their friendship, their shared conditions and solidarity. Its exceptionally bittersweet, almost tragic though never dour. The monochrome photography could symbolize this dourness, though it's later contrasting use of colour not only counters any social-realist misery but also justifies the very use of monochrome as an effective and bold style which can still be used in creative and new forms.
Though at its very core is the friendship of our protagonists which acts as a foundation to the film - an anchor - arguably the heart of the film. Their relationship is genuinely touching thanks to the great performances by Cristian Ortega and Lorn Macdonald.