Like any good rock album ...
I'LL BE AROUND (2020)
Against the backdrop of a post-punk music festival, we follow an assortment of struggling musicians and music fans as they deal with any number of personal and philosophical issues.
There are key moments in the film with beautiful imagery and clear sense of direction that just almost captured that magic of being in a city on a gig night. Unfortunately, due to the multi-strain narrative, there were also plenty of moments where that magic was lost, and aspects felt looser and sloppy. Due to the different tonal styles depending on which of the myriad of characters we were following, I’ll Be Around actually felt like it had multiple directors which is some aspects worked in its favour, but others, not so much.
The overarching plot follows many inhabitants of a town throughout the opening night of a pop punk festival. We move in and out of various vignettes following a whole host of different characters and story arcs dipping in and out of their lives. Some of these storylines are fascinating – I would have liked to spend more time with the girl whose date bought an imaginary friend with him. Likewise, Eve Valentine’s storyline of the successful singer who can no longer take to the stage had a lot to offer, but we never truly got to explore what she was going through. Plot points like the adorable thief couple were enjoyable, but with a 2-hour runtime, they could have easily been removed, as could many plots. The fact that the writers were able to keep the strands together so neatly is to be admired, but by giving us so much, it means the film never builds to a satisfying third act.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
As mentioned, some of the characters like Eve, the three teenagers trying to sneak into the festival without ID were great. But there were also characters who were so self-involved that you struggled to truly care about them, such as in debt Cooper. The dialogue was the biggest hurdle and at times could feel overindulgent and cliched. Like with the plot and direction, at times it struck lightning, at other points it just didn’t spark.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
A lot of effort went into the styling of the costumes and hair for the wide mix of the characters. Some beautiful pieces of clothing mixed in with some over the top caricature elements that felt too comic or cheapened the feel of the shot. That being said, it gave me such a burning passion to get back into a dive bar and listen to live music, capturing at times that uncapturable essence.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
As you would hope from any film centered around music, the music hits and hits well. Almost every scene is accompanied by another song and it’s hard to pick key ones out, but the music doesn’t miss a beat and it’ll be of no surprise that the filmmakers have a keen passion for music themselves.
There was far more to like than dislike in I’ll Be Around, but due to the overstuffing of plot narratives and characters, it never really builds to anything so by the end of the 2 hours you’re not left with any desire to revisit this night or the characters. Like any good rock album, there’s moments of greatness but it fails to become a classic.