This love letter to the Beatles rediscovers an exceptional back catalogue that is paralleled with Mozart. The original boy band who could play… where “Boy Power” came from.
Beatles fans or not, this is a joyous take on 4 magnetic characters who put playing music well and writing songs ahead of being famous, although they did get fairly famous. This can also be enjoyed as watching a gig, and as a study of music history that gives us some context and reflection for the industry today.
i.e. “Beatlemania” contextualises our current age – of what it means to be a successful band, or more often now a solo artist who has become embedded into celebrity culture – a modern day brand… Noel Gallagher reflected in an interview last year that music these days is more about solo artists (think Adele, Ed Sheeran), as opposed to being a formed group who know each other intimately, writing, performing and evolving together. This isn’t to say their aren’t talented individuals, but the shift has gone from being in a band to being an individual more often than not.
I am not an expert of the rock biopic genre, I’ve seen a few. Some do the life story from cradle to the grave, and feel a bit like a TV mini- series. Some are out there for the true devotees in terms of the latest content on whatever format hardcore fans will lap up whatever is put out.
This is film is none of the above.
This is about a band that started with raw talent, surfed a long wave, and redefined musical history. Beatlemania and that John Lennon quote that got so misunderstood really are a part of modern history, and an interesting point in modern history too involving war, raging race issues and a presidential assassination. We journey with these four different guys, spend time with the Fab Four lamenting that there is left a Fab Two.
Ron Howard is clearly a fan, and has done a brilliant job of capturing a window of time, rather than endeavouring to cover everything.
Although not as edgy as how Senna or Amy were brought to the screen as modern day documentary films, this is still visceral and emotive stuff, feeling like we have actually hung out with the boys, feeling there pleasures and pains, their performance and their camaraderie. This could have been a nostalgia trip to satisfy the faithful, but I think this film does find an angle on making this meaningful for a variety of audiences. You will want to sing along, you’ll want to share in the gags and the pranks. The film doesn’t really go deep into the wider relationships or linger on the departures… it stays mainly focussed on some key gigs, interviews and how and why they recorded and were managed. It is relentlessly upbeat.
I am a Beatles fan, more so than the alternative Stones option, but I would say unreservedly that this is worthy of your time. Should you attempt to see it in the cinema, or wait for it to come out on another format ? I would say get to a big screen because it simply makes you feel like you are at some of the gigs, in a way that you won’t get or feel quite so scintillatingly at home. 8/10
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