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BFI London Film Festival: We Are X – Review

If you are in a marginally successful  band then you are going to get a musical film about you. There are loads and tonnes of these, showing the intimate life of bands on tours as they roll around vans and attend gig after gig. Yawn.

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With some artists, there persona eludes the unoriginality, becoming the sole focus and the seat of entertainment and joy. But if you aren’t into the music, if there isn’t a tragic backstory to the artist, and, frankly, if there weren’t so many musical biopics out there, then We Are X would probably be levitated into some sort of superb movie. Instead, it lolls with a superficiality and lack of depth that would make it so interesting.

The film revolves around X Japan who have been an iconic Japanese band in their home land for several decades. The band formed when drummer and composer Yoshiki and lead singer Toshi in their teens during the eighties. Influenced by metal and pop-punk, the band released their first album in 1988 where they become instant  successes in Japan. However, they were culturally too late too successfully move over to America until recent year’s where their fame has spurned countless of crazy fans. Looking at the change from then to now, the change in band members and toning down the appearance, the band explore their issues include Toshi’s departure and exploration of a cult for ten years.

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And that’s about it. Sure enough the last thing in that list is perhaps the most interesting. Yet the film seems to skim the surface with these complexities that the band went through owing to a lot of tedium within the film. It’s exhausting wanting the movie to go deeper, yearning for a more emotive connection with the band beyond the surface.

It’s just palatable and there are moments of real clarity with the band members. That’s not the mention the nostalgia throwback of glam rock hair and excessive amounts of makeup lined under their eyes. And, as mentioned, if you are into that music, you will be immersed into X Japan’s world. But for the movie, there is literally nothing else holding it together.

So, yes, if you’ve seen one music documentary, you’ve seen them all. There is something self-congratulatory and vain about We Are X that dulls the enjoyment. Tediously, you are desperately tryinb to move your head into the current flow of the film but drown in the bordem that arises.

The rhetoric cannot be hammered down enough, though. If you enjoy this genre of music or are really into the band, you’ve got yourself a winning movie. Sadly, this doesn’t do much else for those outside of the circle.

X does not hit the spot.


We Are X played as part of the BFI London Film Festival. 
It comes out in cinemas in 2017

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