Good old Arcade Fire. You have to hand it to them, they do like to have their cake and eat it. Throughout the duration of Mirror Noir they seem to go to great lengths to present themselves as artistic and commercial outsiders, operating in their own time and space. Yet look into purchasing said DVD though and, ta da, there’s your opportunity to shell out for a deluxe version featuring extra footage from various TV performances. Correct us if we’re wrong, but haven’t they worked out that a DVD can have more than 70 minutes worth of material on it without having to come in a special box and costing 30 Euros?
As with everything that Arcade Fire do, however, Mirror Noir is undoubtedly stylish. Helmed by the Takeaway Show duo of Vincents Moon and Morisset (indeed some of the footage appeared on their website a while back – see below), the usual approach to a concert video / music documentary is abandoned in favour of a classy, hand held camera work, capturing the band both off and very much on guard while all the time giving a sense of cinema verite. As a visual feast it’s mesmorising.
Yet while this method has often in the past been utterly engaing (especially their work with Beirut), the subjects here do no-one any favours. After a breathlessly exiting opening of the band appearing in the middle of a Paris crowd to lead the ensemble in a rousing ‘Wake Up’, things settle down a little too quickly. With the film based mainly around the Neon Bible record, it rapidly becomes clear what Mirror Noir‘s main problem is – the source material just isn’t very good. Throw in some less than riveting footage of the band at work in the studio and the results are, well, all rather dull. There, we’ve said it. Dull and pretentious.
Yes, you do get ‘Keep The Car Running’ and ‘Intervention’ but even these are presented in such a disinterested manner as to do nothing to quicken the pulse. Add in some annoying sound clips of fans either praising them to high heaven or damning them to hell (you have to have balance, see) and the whole experience is pretty unremarkable. Until, that is, the closing whammy of ‘Power Out’ and ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ where they finally show that they can still be the band we believe them to be. In this context though all it really does is throw the previous hour of tedium into focus. A case of a band believing their own importance it may be, but Mirror Noir proves that Arcade Fire themselves are in need of a giant wake up call.