Ride, Rise, Roar Review

Ride, Rise, Roar film still


Disappointed Talking Heads fans will be digging for reasons to love this movie.

There is nothing more abhorrent than the phrase, 'you have to see it live to really get it',but Ride, Rise, Roar is testament to those words.

The near-spontaneous documentary, directed by Hillman Curtis, follows former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and his avante garde collective on his 2008/'09 tour 'Everything That Happens Will Happen Today'. The tour promotes the Byrne-Brian Eno musical collaboration, performing both current and retrospective material.

Though it bills itself as a 'concert movie', Ride, Rise, Roar moulds its narrative around the artistic process behind the scenes. Characteristically off-beat, Byrne chose to turn his performance in to a dance-music fusion, searching for 'dancers that don't look like dancers'.

Anyone who has seen Byrne's live performances will know that the man loves to move, so forming his tour around a dancing troop was just a logical step. The result is a perfectly choreographed team synching with Byrne's musical whimsy like magic.

What’s more entrancing is Byrne's apparent immortality; at 58, he has the body of a 20 year old and the energy to match. Decked entirely in pearly threads with a Beckette-esque quiff, it feels a little like a Byrne-rebirth. The concerts are curiously interactive, adding to the unpredictability of the performances – Byrne becomes a part of the choreography, rather than being central to it, dancers play instruments, backing singers launch themselves onto centre stage.

The kinetic energy of songs like 'Burning Down the House' is perfectly showcased by the thrashing bodies diving beneath Byrne's legs. But the due to the simplistic set, with all on staged dressed completely in white, it becomes difficult to decipher one concert from another, making for tiresome viewing.

For a performer associated with eccentric dynamicity, this documentary is not nearly innovative enough in terms of editing style or use of visuals. It is promoted as a film about David Byrne and yet the focus is placed almost exclusively on the dancers. The concert footage, meanwhile, is intercepted with interviews from all those involved in the show, in particular the choreographers.

None of these are overtly inspiring or informative and after the first 40 minutes, the responses begin to repeat themselves. But the best moment of Ride, Rise, Roar, an interview with Byrne and Brian Eno on their combined musical process, is all to brief.

It's admirable that the director refused to adopt the hackneyed approach of tacking on archive footage, but the lateral subject matter is just not enough to carry this film through. Still, Talking Heads fans will dig for reasons to love this movie, and probably find enough to justify it. After all, to them Byrne can do no wrong.

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