On the Road

"Weak"

On the Road Review


Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the band's UK and Ireland tour. On the one hand, filmmaker Michael Winterbottom had complete access backstage, so he catches the band members on the tour bus, in the dressing room and around town. But nothing very interesting happens with them, and their performances are cut short on-screen. Instead, there's an awkward fictional storyline stirred in that feels like little more than a distraction.

This artificial plot centres on 21-year-old London music executive Estelle (Leah Harvey), who joins Wolf Alice as they travel to Belfast and Dublin, then crisscross England, Scotland and Wales before heading to London. Along the way, Estelle falls for roadie Joe (James McArdle) and they have a rather torrid fling. Meanwhile, the bandmates (Ellie Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Joel Amey and Theo Ellis) are lounging around, trying to find time to sleep, doing interviews with local press and having photo shoots in between their gigs, at which they're supported by Bloody Knees and Swim Deep.

Oddly, the film doesn't really work as a rock doc, since Winterbottom only includes snippets of the songs. This is a shame, since Rowsell has so much stage charisma, elevating Wolf Alice's distinct brand of edgy pop. But the strangest thing is that the bandmates never get up to any backstage antics at all. They have some late-night raves in pubs, but they otherwise reveal very little about themselves. Even in the interviews, the questions are all resolutely superficial. Instead, the movie seeks some emotional interest in the romance between Estelle and Joe, cross-cutting their languid sex with the band's stage performances. Both Harvey and McArdle are solid in the roles, but there's no context to their interaction. And the meeting with his mother (a cameo from Shirley Henderson) in Glasgow is bizarrely pointless.

As the film goes along, you can almost feel Winterbottom trying to salvage something from the material he so beautifully shot on the road. But in trying to make a movie to appeal to wider audiences, he's likely to alienate everyone. People who love Wolf Alice will want a lot more than this. Those mildly interested won't learn anything new. And audiences just looking for an offbeat band tour drama will scratch their heads wondering why this movie was made at all. Rowsell and her band have a lot of presence. If only Winterbottom had deleted the fiction and given us a storming concert movie instead.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Box Office Worldwide: $8.8M

Budget: $25M

Production compaines: American Zoetrope, France 2 Cinéma, VideoFilmes, Vanguard Films, Canal+, SPAD Films, MK2 Productions, Film4, Ciné+, France Télévisions, Nomadic Pictures, Kramer & Sigman Films, Jerry Leider Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Cast & Crew

Producer: , Anthony Wilcox

Starring: as Dean Moriarty / Neal Cassady, as Sal Paradise / Jack Kerouac, as Marylou / LuAnne Henderson, as Jane / Joan Vollmer, as Carlo Marx / Allen Ginsberg, as Camille / Carolyn Cassady, as Old Bull Lee / William S. Burroughs, as Ed Dunkle / Al Hinkle, as Terry / Bea Franco, as Galatea Dunkel / Helen Hinkle, as Walter, Sarah Allen as Vicki, as Laura, Eric Davis as Paul, as Tonia, as Tall thin salesman, Giovanna Zacarías as Puta Loca Roja

Contactmusic


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.