Review: Band

Written and directed by Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir, Álfrún, Saga Sigurðardóttir and Hrefna Lind Lárusdóttir of The Post Performance Blues Band, are tired of playing to audiences of five at their gigs and getting paid in beer. Each of them is staring down 40 and exhausting themselves juggling motherhood and their artistic pursuits. They decide to give themselves one year to either become popstars or quit the band for good.

Deciding to create a film which explores such intimate and personal experiences while giving it a comedy edge, is both bold and impressively honest. One of the great things about Band is how it can so flawlessly move between different tones, when surrounding the band it builds a quirky, unique and eccentric atmosphere then the rest of the film strikes a very everyday tone. That blend of different energies helps you to get to know these subjects, especially as it’s not even slightly afraid to show the moments where they fall short. The most impressive element is undoubtedly how despite making a film about a big part of her own life, Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir manages to create an objective eye. Capturing that intimacy through an observer’s perspective requires a great amount of skill and self-awareness.

For a large portion of Band, it has a perky, constantly moving feel, it’s jumping around from person to person but it’s well edited enough to do so with consistency and create a cohesive story. It also has a superbly awkward edge, which is one of the elements that helps so well to keep its feet on the ground. It does play with the line of fact and fiction, parts of it almost feel reminiscent of the comedic stylings of New Zealand’s indie cinema. On the other hand, it simultaneously has a surprising amount of emotion to offer, there’s a sincerity and thoughtfulness to the way that these women are portrayed.

It’s not an easy thing to ask someone to portray a version of themselves but then again, it is perhaps a more appropriate question when you’re talking to performance artists. It feels as though it was a challenge that they all embraced, to add in a few extras but keep it close to home. They’re a genuinely sweet group of friends to watch, it’s a bumpy road but it never undermines the strength and charm of their relationships. Of course, it can’t be denied that they’re dealing with a style that’s beyond niche when it comes to their music. Though the way that it’s used keeps the film extremely accessible, you don’t have to be a fan of that genre or style, to still enjoy the film.

For a film that does have a very eccentric, slightly crazy edge to it, a large portion of the directorial style feels familiar, established and introspective. Especially in choosing to shoot at the docks which makes for a fantastic location with a stellar visual quality. There’s then also a slightly dreamlike quality to the music video segments that are weaved throughout Band. You’d imagine that they’d be out of place alongside the everyday feel but they actually have a lot to add and feel as though they even enhance the emotion of the story, as well as exploring the music.

Band is a great blend of documentary and comedy, following a unique and charming group of women. Their openness and self-awareness in making this film is something special. It’s both eccentric and hugely relatable, in struggling to succeed at something you’re so passionate about. There’s a great variety to the direction throughout and the fact that it manages to bring such an intimate view while holding a wider perspective is exceptional. Even if you’re not into performance art, there’s still plenty to enjoy.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Reviewed as part of Glasgow Film Festival 2023

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