Magazine article Screen International

'Keith Richards: Under the Influence': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Keith Richards: Under the Influence': Review

Article excerpt

Dir. Morgan Neville. US. 2015. 81mins

The title Keith Richards: Under The Influence may seem like a wry nod to the Rolling Stones guitarist's infamous history with booze and drugs, but this likeable, lightweight documentary is actually more concerned with the man's legacy in rock & roll, as well as the artists and genres that have inspired him. Hardly definitive, this wistful promotional item - Richards has a solo album, Crosseyed Heart, arriving Friday - paints the man as an adorable, rascally musical icon, and Richards is such a fun interviewee that there's no point kvetching about the film's superficial treatment.

Set to premiere on Netflix after screening at the Toronto Film Festival, Under The Influence is a perfect fit for the small screen considering the documentary's intimate scope. Directed by Morgan Neville, the Oscar-winner behind another music movie, Twenty Feet From Stardom, this portrait will play well with Stones fans and classic-rock lovers in general.

Running just over 80 minutes, Under The Influence spends time with Richards as he works on Crosseyed Heart, one of his rare solo albums in a half-century career. But it also follows him on a mini-tour of American cities that jump-started the Stones' muse back in the early days, including Chicago and its rich blues catalogue and the legions of country music greats from Nashville. It's not uncommon for rock documentaries to take a nostalgic look back at their subjects' roots, but Under The Influence adopts a slightly different approach by focusing on Richards talking about heroes such as Hank Williams, Buddy Guy and Chuck Berry rather than offering a beat-by-beat personal biography.

Nevertheless, there's no escaping the fact that Under The Influence is primarily a tie-in to advertise Richards' new disc. Consequently, the documentary never digs very deeply, practically putting the guitarist-songwriter on a pedestal, although Richards has such a charmingly self-deprecating manner and talks about his idols with such reverence that Under The Influence escapes feeling like a vanity project. …

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