David Byrne's American Utopia (2020)

David Byrne's American Utopia (2020)

David Byrne’s stage show is a joyous ride through the Talking Heads catalog

7.8

Movie

United States of America
English
Documentary, Drama, Music
2020
SPIKE LEE
Angie Swan, Bobby Wooten Iii, David Byrne
105 min

What it's about

A filmed version of David Byrne's Broadway show, a unifying musical celebration that inspires audiences to connect to each other and to the global community.

The take

Legendary Talking Heads frontman David Byrne returns with this enigmatic stage show, and with Spike Lee in tow, the film reaches for the heights of the iconic concert doc Stop Making Sense. For those unfamiliar, Stop Making Sense directed by Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the Talking Heads’ invigorating live show in their early eighties prime, and is often considered one of the best concert films of all time.

Now nearly forty years later Byrne attempts a resurrection of that spirit or a form of it given his former bandmates notably absent from the project. His propellant energy is on full display as he goes through the ‘Heads catalog with a backing band that dances in intricately choreographed sequences around him. Most notable, however, is the sparseness of the stage production which brings to mind a dirge-like atmosphere. Byrne’s righteous thrashings against Reagan’s America carry renewed weight in the despondency of the Trump-era. So despite his attempts at optimism, aching futility runs through the heart of the show; most pointed when Byrne sings the famous lines from in Once In A Lifetime: “Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.”

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