20 Feet From Stardom: Review

Image from: http://www.mvfilmsociety.com
This year’s Oscar winner for best documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom, takes a look into the world of underappreciated backing vocalists and the struggle they face in making the leap to centre stage.

Although I think 20 Feet From Stardom is not Oscar-worthy, I understand why it took home the prize over its more serious, more political competitors.
It’s got that glamourous Hollywood sheen to it, complete with a fluff ending, meaning the film works well on a superficial level but doesn’t offer much substance.

It’s a very enjoyable watch with fascinating insights from Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Sting and Mick Jagger, and some excellent archived footage of Joe Cocker, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie; enough to keep the most avid music fan interested.

But the film falls short with its (lack of) investigation into why these background singers, these excellent voices such as Darlene Love, Merry Clayton and Lisa Fischer have never fully made the transition from background vocalist to the star.

Whilst it hints at a combination of circumstances such as race, sex and politics, it never fully explores any of these factors and in turn left me craving more mental sustenance than what was on offer.

Despite lacking the resonance of other documentaries such as The Act of Killing or The Square (my personal favourite), 20 Feet From Stardom still remains a decent and solid music doc which is easy on the eyes and ears but does little for the brain.


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