Docs That Rock

Dual Personality Film

It’s gratifying to see someone try to shake up the form of the music doc. It’s also hard to do as evidenced by the new Canadian flick This Film is Broken. It’s a film that combines the raw energy and excitement of a concert, helmed by the alt rock collective Broken Social Scene interspersed by a fictional narrative love story about a young couple that has only night together before the femme fatale has to leave for Europe. Two great tastes in one package, right?

I wish the ambition could have made for one amazing film than what feels like an incomplete half. Canadian filmmakers Bruce McDonald and Don McKellar do a solid job by portraying the lyricism of the band playing a free show in their Toronto hometown. And the method to interrupt a concert doc with the love story seems promising at first. But the narrative tale, where the couple is trying to gain backstage access to the show, presented thinly, obliquely in flips and starts with a few random turns at the end, didn’t have enough oomph for me to satisfy my dramatic side. Maybe it was my own formalist division between nonfiction and fiction that felt uncomfortable next to one another and I wonder if the drama portion wouldn’t haven’t better if it was an unscripted romance.

But my dissatisfaction may be in the minority. Twitch Film wrote “The story glides gently from concert footage to romantic gestures to friendship talk, never feeling forced or contrived as it moves back and forth in time over the course of the day. The fictional overlay feeds off the energy of the concert; while neither comments directly on the other, they both feel part of the same organic whole, two different strands of the same narrative plot.” Moisés Chiullan at The Playlist marveled at how “people wander around and behave like human beings, not the same inorganic constructs that we have shoved down our throats so often in independent cinema. What at first glance seems to be your run-of-the-mill “indie movie hipster romance” finally questions precisely what “conventional” has become or should be, without winks or nudges in the least. Things just happen, as in real life.” The Globe and Mail (side note: where I had one of first journalism gigs) felt “the end result not only captures a great performance but also reflects the “other side” of a concert experience — the little scenes playing out in the crowd.”

The film has just opened in Canada. No word yet on a U.S. release. The great trailer is posted above.

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June 28, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

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