No Manifesto: A Film about Manic Street Preachers (2015)

When you watch a music documentary about a band you don’t really like, there’s always going to be some difficulty in assessing it fairly, so my comments should be taken in that light. Manic Street Preachers are a Welsh band formed in the 1980s but who attained some of their greatest success in the following decade. As the documentary makes clear, however, this didn’t always translate internationally — there’s a series of vox pop interviews with New Yorkers on the street indicating how little they’ve heard of the band compared to MSP’s contemporaries — and yet this film is made by a primarily US-based crew and director. It does all the usual documentary stuff — talking heads interviews with band members and fans, archival footage of key points in their career, live gigs — and it covers controversies like the mysterious disappearance of original member Richey Edwards, all set against the three remaining band members rehearsing and working up a new album. No doubt this will appeal to existing fans (those I was watching it with seemed to like it well enough). It just doesn’t get under the skin of why the band have the success they do, or why a casual listener should be interested in them. Don’t get me wrong, they all seem like perfectly nice chaps and I wish them continued success, but as a documentary I was hoping for more insight.


© November Films

FILM REVIEW
Director Elizabeth Marcus | Cinematographers Mike Desjarlais and Chuck Miller | Length 96 minutes || Seen at a friend’s flat, London, Saturday 28 March 2015

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