In 2010 critically acclaimed US band The National were embarking on their biggest tour to date. Needing extra help – and seeing an opportunity to spend time with his younger brother – lead singer Matt Berninger invited Tom to join the band as a tour assistant. As an aspiring filmmaker, Tom too saw an opportunity and grabbed his camera. As an outsider with the cheek and irreverence of a younger brother, Tom begins to make a mischievous portrait of the band. Neglecting his day job, though, the stresses of the tour only lead Tom to a sense of alienation from the group and his brother. With 200 hours of unedited live footage and interviews, Tom, with the passionate, loving support of his rock star older brother, turns the film’s attention onto himself to rediscover a sense of purpose. What emerges is at once rough edged, enigmatic and moving; a comedic, satirical portrait of a popular band famed for nuance and intensity, and a beautifully honest portrayal of brotherhood.
It will be hard to leave this film without a smile. You have an over achieving older brother who has achieved fame through his band, he is wise, calm and popular and his younger, not so successful brother still lives at home with his mum and dad, can’t hold down a job and lacks real direction in life. The description of these two people alone would make the basis for a great piece of fiction, but actually they are both the product of reality. A real sibling relationship captured, comically, sentimentally and naively through the eyes of Tom. From the outset you see the playfulness, as Matt questions whether or not his younger brother even has a clue as to what he wants to interview him about, and throughout you see the members of The National road crew bite their tongues and put up with Tom’s awful attempt at being a roadie because he is the singers brother. It all makes for an enjoyable watch with plenty of laughs, honest insights and real views to life on the road with a famous band.
You don’t have to be a fan of The National to watch this film, although those who are, will probably find it even more compelling, but as a newbie to this whole world of Indie Rock, I found it interesting, hilarious at times and most importantly real. Its more a story about brotherhood and the things you will and wont put up with for your family, and that no matter how famous you are, supporting those you love is the most important factor.
Go and be surprised, entertained and uplifted with this fun and poignant watch.