Title – I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story (2018)
Director – Jessica Leski (The Ball)
Cast – Elif (One Directon), Dara (Take That), Sadia (Backstreet Boys), Susan (The Beatles)
Plot – A documentary examination of four different woman of whom all share a common obsession with a boy band that has helped shape and define their lives.
“Human beings can’t be that perfect”
Review by Eddie on 10/09/2019
We may all be fans of things in our lives (nachos, cheap Monday’s) but I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story examines a whole different side of fandom that exists around the world in Australian documentary filmmaker Jessica Leski’s fun and insightful locally made product.
Taking a microscope to four very different women and their obsessions with a boyband of their choice and what that obsession means to them, Fangirl may be hard for some people to fully understand but it’s a carefully considered and non-judgmental film that displays the facts clearly in front of us without ever making us take a side about how we should feel about how these potentially unhealthy fan habits shape and mould those that harbor them.
Leski does a great job at sourcing and showcasing a range of fangirl’s in her film, we have American teenager Elif whose a One Direction diehard, Sydney-sider and brand awareness strategist Dara who has a long time obsession with Take That, San Francisco journalist Sadia whose jam is the Backstreet Boys and the more elderly Melbournian TV producer Susan who was around in peak Beatles mania and remains a fangirl to this day.
With a broad section of cultures, backgrounds and bands to discuss, Leski’s film gives us a smorgasbord of material to enjoy in her film, with there being no need for us to know much about these bands beforehand to understand why our subjects found something to fall in love with.
Whether it was the boyish good looks, the pure musical talent or the subject matters the bands sing about, it’s clear to see how and why these type of groups have a time and place in our subjects lives, that at more than one point throughout the documentary showcases to be a life-altering and life-saving thing.
Leski should be commended for offering up such an open-book look at this subject, its one that would be easy to ridicule or dismiss but for anyone that struggles to understand why these groups have a time and place, perhaps a parent struggling to understand their child’s deep seeded love for a band or group, Fangirl is a documentary that will likely open your eyes to the unbridled joy they can offer their fans and make a good case for their need as a bonus.
Seeing our subjects enjoy various music, performances or even awkwardly at one stage a fan cruise is a smile inducing sight and Elif, Dara, Sadia and Susan all make for carefully considered guides through this wild fangirl world with their heartfelt explanations and willingness to allow themselves to be truthful to what and who they are ensuring Fangirl is a likeable and memorable outing.
Final Say –
You’ll never judge that screaming concert goer in quite the same way after having watched Leski’s film as I Used to be Normal is an accessible, likeable and eye-opening Australian documentary that can be enjoyed by a wide-ranging audience both young and old.
3 ½ rain-soaked Backstreet Boy’s out of 5