More than any film that I've seen in a while, this documentary stirred up a wide range of emotions in me, and at times I wasn't quite sure what to feel.
Let me first say up front that this is a great film which I really liked, and is well worth checking out whether you're into heavy metal music or not. Hence one of the many emotions referred to was laughter! As you may have heard, the film is at times hilarious in a "you couldn't make this up" sort of way (apparently some people mistake it for a Spinal Tap style mockumentary, and you can see why - a confusion that isn't helped by the drummer's name being Robb Reiner!). It has some classic lines and situations, and is very watchable. Certainly a film that you can enjoy watching either on your own or in a group.
My conflict came when I tried to work out what to feel towards these aging, passionate musicians. We're often told by inspirational books and films to "follow our dreams" - as a feel good message to motivate us to make the most of our lives. So what are we to make of this band that refuses to give up their art, in the face of obscurity and indifference, and despite the strain that this puts on the rest of their lives? Maybe this depends on what you personally feel about their music: to me they seemed out of touch and out of time...no more than a relic, and oblivious to the fact that they are no longer relevant, or indeed that even if they were still relevant it is hard to get your money back from making an album in this digital download age, or from touring when they've been replaced by younger bands that the kids can relate to. At times you are left with the uncomfortable feeling that they are being exploited.
But right there is the twist and the contradiction that leaves me confused! Because it is as a direct result of their refusal to give up or face the facts of their situation that has resulted in this film being made about them, which has in turn led to them getting a second bite of fame. And it wouldn't surprise me now if they HAVE made money on their album as a result of their new found fame, even though that seemed inconceivable during the film as they desperately tried to find a record label who thought it would be worth releasing. And if this is true, then take nothing away from them...they deserve it!
So many contradictions. Should I pity these guys and feel sad for them and their broken dreams...or admire them for their boundless enthusiasm and refusal to accept life's limitations, and feel happy for them that in some strange way it now seems to have paid off!? Well, I'm certain that in the wake of the film they have no regrets, and feel in some way vindicated, so hats off to them. For the rest of us, I guess all we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.
In summary, a fascinating and enjoyable documentary, which I recommend.