If I Should Fall From Grace is a great in-depth look at a man with the beautiful soul of an Irish poet combined with the arrested development of a London punk. We are of course, speaking of the one and only Shane Macgowan. Through much of the documentary it is quite obvious that our subject is teetering on the edge of passing out, but that doesn't prevent him from some brilliant moments of clarity and poetic commentary.
The documentary takes us through Shane's early days as a troublemaker at school, abusing pain pills, and eventually dropping out to later form the Nips (shortened from their true name so as not to appear sexist) where he fist began performing in England. Next we move on to the earliest days of the pogues and the real meat & potatoes of their repetoire. Shane and the other commentators give insight to how the songs came about, their production, and the eventual toll touring took on the band's health.
Next we move onto the Pogues at their peak, the "If I Should Fall from Grace with God" era, which is treated just as so in the film. Then begins the rapid decline of Shane's health, the band breaks up, yadda-yadda-yadda. Differing viewpoints are given, but nevertheless, Shane was put out to pasture.
While the film is chock full of great music videos and live performances with and without the Pogues, I feel that the director did not give any time to Shane's new band, the Popes. I had the pleasure of seeing them perform at Guinness Fleadh '98, and they are an equally vibrant band that seems to fit well with Shane's continuing self-abuse through chemistry. Perhaps their inclusion would have merely reinforced Shane's continued debauchery, but interviewing ex-Pogues, and none of the current line-up makes the film feel somewhat incomplete.
Nick Cave's commentary throughout the film was probably the most brilliant of all offerings, especially as we see Shane skipping lines and even nearly whole songs altogether (in bits & pieces) in the latter quarter of the film.
Interspliced throughout the film are bits of "Shane about town". Some scenes are very moving, in that he hasn't forgotten the down-and-out, or his family. Still, the film, especially the end, plays like a reason not to abuse substances.
All-in-all, I highly recommend this film. The good, the bad, and certainly the ugly are all rolled into one. If you're a lover of all things Irish, the story of Shane Macgowan is not one to be missed.