BBC - Mark Kermode's film blog

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Swell Season shakes up the pop music doc in a way that suggests new possibilities for the form. Its beautiful black-and-white cinematography (the shots of Ireland are often breathtaking) and terrific editing go a long way toward explaining why The Swell Season works, but one can't help but suspect that it's the off-camera relationships that were the special ingredient. And "relationships" in this case doesn't refer to those between Hansard, Irglová, and their bandmates, but rather between the entire group of musicians and the filmmakers themselves. Over time a deep sense of trust apparently developed so that subjects became less guarded, and the ensuing spirit of direct and disarming honesty is compounded by the innately down-to-earth personalities of the performers.

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