Pearl Jam Twenty – Review:
I am sitting in a dark theatre filled with people and we are all about to … change.
When I heard that Cameron Crowe is making a documentary about Pearl Jam, one of the biggest music icons of our times, I was ecstatic. The man who toured with legendary rock’n’roll bands while writing for Rolling Stone magazine and brought to life films like ‘Singles’ and ‘Almost Famous’ would be the perfect person to make a documentary about the legendary Pearl Jam — not only being so closely related to rock and roll but also being an amazing filmmaker.
The Toronto International Film Festival gave me a chance to find out if the combination of these two entities would in fact be perfect.
In a word, Yes. Absolutely. Hell yeah!
The documentary created from possibly over 2,000 hours of footage and current interviews with the band members is in fact not only the best documentary I have ever seen, but also one of the best ever!
Together with Pearl Jam, Crowe, Chris Cornell, Kurt Cobain and others, we take a journey into a dark and highly emotional period of grunge music in the 90s. Finding out about the early days of Green River, Mother Love Bone, Temple of the Dog and finally Mookie Blaylock later known as… Pearl Jam.
We hear personal stories of each of the band members explaining to us the very nature of the music scene in Seattle at that time; their personal issues, problems with drugs, relationships with other musicians find Crowe’s lens and this puts more light on the reasons behind the creation and evolution of the grunge genre.
Amazing because I have never seen footage in a music doc that makes the narrative believable and accessible — not only for the idolizing fans but also for any audience. And that is the magic of the film – it’s not a grunge chronicle – it’s a story about emotions, growing up, dealing with problems, reaching inward to the darkest parts of our mind in search for hope.
The band members share their most personal stories explaining how these stories influenced the band, the music, and their lives. They don’t even refrain from showing us the most embarrassing of moments. The pure honesty in a way forces the audience to engage and believe.
The film is a mixture of positive and negative emotions. Some scenes will bring tears to many viewers and moments later something will make them laugh.
Crowe is also very accurate with showing familiar moments of Pearl Jam’s career with greater detail and personal reflection including the creation of their first album, dealing with success and popularity, relations with Nirvana and Kurt Cobain’s tragic death, war with Ticketmaster and life changing tragedy in Roskilde. Illustrating these moments with incredible archival footage, we are taught more.
The music choices in the film are excellent. Archive footage from legendary gigs at Lolapoloza, Verona, Pinkpop Festival and many others perfectly illustrate the heart and soul of the band. I think that live version of ‘Realese me’ from the gig in Verona put together with Eddie’s reflections about his biological father deserve special mention.
The way the film is edited from the insane amount of footage is truly remarkable. The Editors did a tremendous job and deserve a place together with the best in business. These silent heroes deserve recognition. They received a deserving ‘thank you’ from Eddie Vedder himself who unexpectedly came on stage during the Q&A following the film.
‘Pearl Jam Twenty’ is on the top of our favourites list during this years TIFF and in my opinion might just be the best film at Tiff, if not of the whole year. This will pertain to everyone who appreciates great movies particularly Cameron’s framing of the life lessons and ambitions of these great musicians, and not just from the perspective of the band’s fans.
It’s an absolute must and in my books deserves a 10/10 rating.
Stay tuned for the official soundtrack, PJ20 book and DVD including over 4 hours of extra footage!