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MOVIES (GFF 2023): Band - Review

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Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir’s Band makes no secret of its inspirations, calling out This is Spinal Tap in its summary – but it’s a strong addition to Icelandic culture that has given us plenty of good films in the past and this is no exception; the Post Performance Blues Band are less of a traditional band and more of an anything-goes band, they dream big and are tired of their lives on the fringes: paid in beer, catering to audiences of five. And can you blame them? Despite the loss of their band member - Álfrún, Saga and Hrefna are clearly talented – and they set themselves a goal. One year to become popstars, or they abandon the band for good.

Chasing a dream can be difficult however and the Post Performance Blues Band encounter many setbacks along the way that are chronicled by Örnólfsdóttir. Much of the buildup is towards a key performance, working with another artist – working with those who will bring fame to them – their method is sound, and often hilarious – the comedy is on point here with the make-or-break approach to gaining fame reaching divine results. The band themselves are real, it’s important to note – for those visiting in person at Glasgow Film Festival they’ll be able to see the band perform at Nice N’ Sleazys, but the film as ever blurs the line between fact and fiction. The decisions that the band makes impact their finances and their personal lives, you get to see them operating outside of the office in their “natural habitat”, if you could call it anything but life outside the band – and like the best documentaries like this it makes you question what is real and what is performance, you couldn’t possibly tell.

It's rare for films to show women failing on stage and being allowed to fail on stage; Band acting as an artistic means of creative survival for the artists involved and allows them to put themselves through the whole process. It’s hard as you’re put in a constant back and forth of wanting to get behind these characters, but at every turn they do something that you wouldn’t think would be a smart call and are left to rage at them. This is funny, presented as the protagonists allowing to bear their heart and soul onto the stage, and the freedom to operate without the confines of pop fame and fortune, whatever the settings it almost looks like fun. Even if the audience themselves almost feel a little too well behaved, like they know they’re on camera.

Band operates with this feel of working against a ticking clock: fame is temporary, short yet achievable – but that triumph is slipping away from these characters. The sense of longing for a connection is what draws these characters together first; and this is juxtaposed with the scenes that Örnólfsdóttir creates that allows the audience to tap into loneliness. In a corporate world that we live in today – would fame be the ultimate objective for these characters? Does everything have to have a monetary value?

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