“We’re just normal people, with abnormal job” —Niall Horan, One Direction.
One Direction, for me is yet another testament of what a ruthless
yet amazing bastard Simon Cowell is when it comes to discovering talent and landing on gold mine. I remember when the boys auditioned as solo male acts only to be rejected in the formulaic talent show. Their golden opportunity arises when Nicole Scherzinger suggest to give the boys a chance as a group instead. Now historical inaccuracies and improper credits aside, the boys of One Directions got out as third winner of that season UK X Factor. Yet here they are now with worldwide successs, multiple platinum selling albums, fame, fortune, and legion of fangirls and fanboys on their feet. Represent the new (and maybe upcoming) British Invasion and took the global market by storm.
Coming 30 minutes late to the screening with my ticket already prepaid, i figure i wouldn’t miss much on this documentary (yes it is a doc of behind the scene-slash-concert footage). I choose to seat myself down in the near front, middle-row, avoiding a noisy, throng of highschool girls at the back, i realised i did not know who’s who of the group (even Shane know ’em better than me). My knowledge is limited to Harry Styles (because of his hair) and Zayn Malik (because he’s flawless and gorgeous, obviously).
Well, i arrived just as the boys arrived in Japan and went to Akihabara’s Maid Cafe to get acquainted with a band of girls with candy-colored wigs in varios cosplays, lolita dress, with neko mimi. A bit fun to see they struggle a little with cross-cultural mishap and took dorky, tourist-y shots of themselves. Viewers are given access to see how the boys play, interact, and do things beyond the footage of their concerts that interspersed within the movie. The portrayal are of course very PG and tame, probably been censored, semi-fictionalised, definitely filtered image of the boys to please its target demographic. These boys does live in the world where image become a currency. Yet, i can pick up moments from the film where the boys display a maturity of how they view themselves, their job, and the world they surround themselves with. They display an admirable professionalism, appear grounded, shows humility. Maybe i just fallen into a victim of the boys’ image campaign, the true agenda of this particular documentary. Ha!
The boys rise to fame did not happen overnight, but still their life changes forever, leaving behind their families and jobs at a bakery or Toys ‘R Us that become a distant yet nostalgic memory. Trying to give a touch of family melodrama, the documentary showcase short interviews with the parents as the boys spend their break along with their families. The documentary did not cross to an overly dramatic approach, instead keeping things light and making the boys approachable and accessible image, just like their onstage persona. The interspersed footage of their performance at London’s O2 Arena giving the film a wholesome package, putting the emphasis of their image. One Direction redefines boybands from its late 90s uniformity, clean, whitewashed trend, into a more realistically accessible, imperfectly flawed, yet charming and playful. Even knowing that they farted, decorate their bodies with prison tats, and still culturally challenged, even just a little bit.
Morgan Spurlock, from the Oscar-nominated debut documentary feature Super Size Me (2004) fame, was commissioned to direct the documentary. Capturing the personalities of each member through mini interviews and candid shots. The concert footage was treated to intertwine with the plot and focused on capturing small gestures that deliver seemingly honest image of each member of One Direction. One of my favorite was a short slow-motion that capture and emphasis Harry smiling face in the middle of him jumping about the stage during one of the song.
For a non fan, i still found it to be an enjoyable and fun experience. Ignoring my personal disappointment for Zayn reserved personality and being heavily amused by Niall hyperactive energizer-bunny antics. Maybe i was just biased because they sang Wheetus’ Teenage Dirtbag in one of the concert footage. But i think This Is Us should be a very satisfying experience and an orgiastic fun for Directioners aka the loyal fan of One Direction, as proven by the wailing, wheezing, caterwauling band of high school girls that was seated a few rows behind me.
PS: apparently i missed the Scorsese cameo? That justify a re-watch, right?
ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US (2013)
GENRE Documentary, Concert
DIRECTOR Morgan Spurlock | PRODUCER Morgan Spurlock, Simon Cowell, Adam Milano, Ben Winston | MUSIC One Direction | CINEMATOGRAPHER Neil Harvey | EDITOR Guy Harding, Wyatt Smith, Pierre Takal | STUDIO Syco Entertainment, Warrior Poets, Modest Entertainment | DISTRIBUTOR TriStar Pictures | COUNTRY United Kingdom, Ireland | RATING PG for mild language | RELEASE August 29, 2013 (UK) | RUNNING TIME 92 minutes | BUDGET $10 million
STARRING Nial Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson
Flawless Zayn is here, TYFYT :P
Read SheSpeaksMovies’ Review of This Is Us.