by / April 17th, 2013 /

The Frames: In The Deep Shade

Review by on April 17th, 2013

 2/5 Rating


Director: Conor Masterson
Cast: Glen Hansard, Graham Hopkins, Joe Doyle, Rob Bochnik, Colm Mac Con Iomaire
Certificate: N/A
Running Time: 87 minutes
Release Date: April 19

By and large, music documentaries will only work if one of two clauses are met—either the viewer is a fan of the music or artist(s) in question, or there’s a compelling story being told that transcends the music. Otherwise, the documentary has little to no relevance. With In The Deep Shade, there is no story as such, rather, it’s a series of monologues punctuated by several live performances. Unlike Wilco’s I Am Trying To Break Your Heart or Gorillaz’s Bananaz, there is no story arc—real or generated—to be found in this documentary.

The film opens on Glen Hansard talking about their upcoming international tour, listing off a number of cities that they’ll be visiting. However, for some reason, the film doesn’t take in any of the sights. Instead, it simply follows Hansard & Co. from the tour bus to the venue. It may be that they themselves never see much of the outside world when on tour, or that it doesn’t interest them. Regardless, it does make for something of a monotonous drudge, going from gig to gig. It may well be that this was the wish of Masterson’s direction and editing; to highlight their mundane life on tour.

The talking head interviews are frank and honest, discussing their reasoning for continuing The Frames after ten years and their individual passions for music. The interviews with each of the individual band members seem to push Hansard to the fore, something that he himself acknowledges—calling himself the ‘heist leader’, equating a live performance to a bank job. The live performances are entertaining and definitely capture the feeling and essence of a Frames gig. Likewise, there are moments of humour amongst them, particularly a blind taste-test between Lyons’ and Barry’s Tea that results in a shock decision by the band members.

The central problem with In The Deep Shade is that there is no real story. It follows a formula of live performance, talking head interview, live performance, band members looking out the tour bus window, live performance, another talking head interview and repeated ad infinitum. The use of black-and-white is a staple of music documentaries, again Wilco’s I Am Trying To Break Your Heart immediately springing to mind. There is a single scene which uses colour, the effect of which only highlights the lack of it in the rest of the documentary, and serves as a ‘what might have been’ moment for the film itself. While this documentary will undoubtedly please hardcore Frames fans, anyone outside of that circle will be neither converted nor entertained.