Title: 20 Feet From Stardom (2013)
Director: Morgan Neville (Johnny Cash’s America)
Cast: Darlene Love, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Merry Clayton, Mick Jagger, Lisa Fischer
Plot: A look in various back up singers that have worked with some of the biggest groups on the planet and have battled with there desires to be stand alone acts and not just performers in the shadows.
“There’s a power to these women that stand on stage with these guys”
Review By Eddie on 19/05/2014
To myself and perhaps many others Morgan Neville’s Oscar winning 2013 doco will forever be known as the film that kept the fascinating and unique documentary feature The Act of Killing from winning it’s just rewards at the Academy Awards but in saying so it’s also a film that offers an unseen look into the world of back up singers and therefore is a consistently entertaining piece of filmmaking despite being a little scattershot in its focus.
With so many subjects appearing in this documentary (and rightfully so as many of these people are bewilderingly talented) Neville does struggle in juggling all of the stories going on in the individual lives and the film suffers at times for it. You will find yourself just getting entrenched in the various stories featured in this film from impromptu Rolling Stones call ups through to playing with Ray Charles, then Neville will cut to another tale that takes time getting back into. The film would of benefited to no end if Neville had decided to segment the movie into proper parts or by dropping a couple of the subjects in favour of a tighter focus on fewer of the singers as it is in these singers that Neville unearths his trump cards.
Living a life that publicly is not well known these back up singers are truly inspiring and Neville allows us to get enough insight into there careers that it makes this documentary more than the sum of its parts. Darlene Love (who made a right sight of herself at this years Oscars ceremony) a legend of the industry is a highlight of the doco but the lesser known Merry Clayton and a family of singers called the Waters are also well worth the price of rental. These people are great ambassadors to the power of the human voice and a testimony to just how affecting a singer can be when they utilise there god given talents.
A workmanlike documentary that is made all the more memorable thanks to it’s real life subjects, 20 Feet From Stardom is a highly enjoyable flick that still to me is the one that robbed The Act of Killing but it’s very hard to be mad at just an inoffensive piece of entertainment that became last years highest grossing documentary feature in the United States.
3 and a half Phil Spector record deals out of 5