Don’t Go Gentle: Review

Don’t Go Gentle: Review

This documentary tells the story of IDLES, a British rock band. The film covers the band’s history from their formation, the release of multiple albums, and their growth from underground band, to playing in arenas at home and abroad. The documentary features the members of the band talking about their hopes and goals when it comes to the type of music they create. We also hear from the group, others in the music industry, and their fans about the community that has formed as a result of the group’s music.

Director Mark Archer and editor Tom Weller, along with the rest of the crew craft a film that feels distinct from other documentaries with musicians as the subject matter. Instead of feeling like a formal interview about the band and its history and impact, it feels as though the filmmakers have crafted a space for both the band members themselves to honestly reflect on their journey, and for fans to talk about what the group’s music has meant to them. One thing that solidifies this more relaxed feel is that a majority of the interview with guitarist Mark Bowen is conducted while he is in a hot tub. Another way the film creates the feeling that the band and their fans are guiding the film as much as the filmmakers, is that while Mark Archer and the crew have clearly assembled great footage of the band performing, there appears to be home video footage of concerts occasionally mixed in. This allows the viewer to feel like they too are experiencing the frenetic yet welcoming atmosphere of IDLES concerts that the band and others talk about repeatedly throughout the film.

While this film follows some of the structure common in music documentaries, particularly starting with the group’s formation and ending at the point of the band playing big shows, some documentaries in this sub-genre focus on the mounting pressure put on musicians as their success grows and the friction that forms amongst bandmates as a result. In this film however, while the bandmates do talk about disagreements they have had, they are usually brief moments that are moved past quickly. The emphasis in this film is instead placed on how the members of the band have increasingly relied on each other and their fans over the years in the face of tragedy, stress, and anxiety. It soon becomes apparent that if the members of IDLES feel any pressure associated with their growth in popularity, it is the pressure to ensure that their increased success does not change their fundamental identity of a group of people who love making music about honest topics such as political and social strife and mental health, all done in the hope that the music will bring people together.



This notion of the unifying and communal nature of music is at the center of the film. Throughout the film people talk about the close-knit nature of the fandom surrounding IDLES. A group not only bonded by their shared love for a band, but a group that can love and support each other during hard times. One fan relays a story of how a woman who lost her husband unexpectedly was able to find solace in the group. Early on in the film, bassist Adam “Dev” Devonshire talks about the importance of the rest of the band standing by him as he struggled with the passing of his mother. This communal aspect is very important to the members themselves and something that serves as a motivator for them when making music. In the film we see footage of lead singer Joe Talbot during concerts telling people he hopes that the experience is uplifting and unifying.

Don’t Go Gentle: A Film about IDLES is a documentary that not only provides insight into the formation and rise of a band, but speaks to the power art has to bring people together and build people up. Featuring honest interviews, arresting concert footage, and a meditation on what art can do, this film is a must see for all documentary and music lovers alike.  


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Trent loves watching and discussing films. Trent is a fan of character dramas and blockbusters. Some of his favorites include: The Breakfast Club, A Few Good Men and The Martian.

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