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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

Critics' review: This Is Us is a decent documentary

Durga M Sengupta, Hindustantimes.com  New Delhi, September 05, 2013
First Published: 19:01 IST(5/9/2013) | Last Updated: 02:29 IST(6/9/2013)

One Direction fans have much to look forward to. Not only is their favourite boy-band in a movie, but if the critics are to be believed the One Direction boys are in a good movie. Good enough for its genre.

"With One Direction: This Is Us, Spurlock has produced a charming, well-paced, very personal insight into how five once-unknown, talented young men (third-place finishers on Simon Cowell’s British version of “The X Factor”) dealt with the explosion of fame and where it seems to be propelling them in the world of pop music," writes Bill Zwecker in Sun Times.

"Quite a few poignant moments expose the boys’ homesickness, love of family and understanding that what they have achieved could be just as quickly taken away from them. On various occasions, the bandmates make it clear they will work hard so they won’t become a here-today-gone-tomorrow musical phenomenon that has happened," Zwecker adds.

David Hiltbrand of The Inquirer finds them cute. "The fact is that they are as criminally cute as a basketful of puppies. This Is Us manages to frame that boyish appeal astutely, roping in home movies, family photos, and archival footage (although, in this case, archival means anything from last year)," he writes.

"Above all, this is a masterpiece of editing. It uses all the standard elements of pop star tributes, but assembles them really smartly and energetically," Hiltbrand notes.

Adam Graham is a realist. "Will One Direction be around forever? No, and both This Is Us and the individual band members understand that. But the movie is an exuberant snapshot of stardom and its mechanics. It might not make you a fan of One Direction, but it will certainly make you understand the group, which is the job of any good documentary," he writes in The Detroit News.

Sounds good!

Mark Olsen echoes Graham's thoughts. He also points out the rather obvious omissions in LA Times.

"The movie steers clear of dealing with the boys' lives as tabloid stars, with no mention, for example, of Styles' short, intensely documented romance with musician Taylor Swift. The film's most honest moments come from time spent with the boys' parents, as Malik buys his mother a house and Styles' mother and stepfather marvel at being flown around the world by their son. On the flipside, other parents speak to feeling that their young sons left one day for an audition and never came back, meaningful moments in their lives together lost in the interim. But the emotional reality of contemporary fame is simply not what "This Is Us" is about, and so such moments are relative B-sides to the film's breezy camaraderie and flashy concert numbers," Olsen writes.

However, Miriam Bale points out the lost potential in the film.

"With a group so evidently versed in the visuals of rock history, it’s a shame that a filmmaker wasn’t hired who would pay homage to classic pop films instead of offering a satisfactory paid promotional. In the end credits — Richard Lester-style scenes of the boys in costumes doing pranks — we see how this film might have been more successful: as an obvious fiction starring these appealing personalities rather than a tame and somewhat fake documentary," Bale notes in NY Times.

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a respectable 67% on the tomatometer with the comment, "It's mostly for the converted, but One Direction: This Is Us will be fun for fans -- and it offers just enough slickly edited concert footage to entertain the casual viewer."

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