TV Party Tonight! #42

TV Party Tonight! #42

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Eagles Of Death Metal
Nos Amis (Our Friends) (Blu Rae)
(Shout Factory/HBO Documentary Films)

I should confess that I delayed reviewing Nos Amis for as long as I could, before I say anything else in this review. The reason for that was almost entirely personal; during the release cycle for Heart On (EODM’s sophomore album), I had the good fortune of getting to interview and to know singer/guitarist Jesse Hughes – about as well as any journalist gets to know a subject with whom he’s spent a bit of time, anyway. Suffice it to say that, given the tenor of our conversations, I feel like both Hughes and I got very comfortable talking with each other, if nothing else. It was a good relationship but then the terrorist attacks at Eagles Of Death Metal’s show at Battaclan in Paris happened. When the news broke, I felt sick; the notion that a terrorist group overtook an event at which a group of people that I felt I had gotten to know (not just Jesse, but Dave Catching and Brian O’Connor as well) and at which a lot of people died senselessly and violently was heartbreaking, harrowing and gut-wrenching. When the news came out that everyone in the band came away relatively unscathed, I was relieved – but after they all came home and the finer points of their experience came to light through interviews, my heart sank again when I learned that while everyone in the band had escaped with their lives, they had been completely and irreversibly changed by the experience. It’s not a surprise that the bandmembers came away changed (how could they not have?), but seeing and hearing that such a thing at such a thing has so effected that one feels one knows just hurts. No one would ever wish that on anyone.

All of the hurt that was opened up in Paris lives on in Nos Amis – the documentary film about the events at Bataclan and Eagles Of Death Metal’s later return to Paris – and that fact is evident when Jesse Hughes betrays the loss of self that he feels when he begins to cry in the opening minutes of the film.

After that initial setting of scene, the film flashes back to before Bataclan – back when everything was still innocent. The footage runs through the birth and development both of Hughes’ Boots Electric” persona as well as that of Eagles Of Death Metal and, after about fifteen minutes, those watching will find they’re completely invested in the film; the characters and the story are just so good, so warm and so sweet that it’s impossible not to see both the band’s individual members as well as the group together as lovable heroes. That’s the breakthrough and, the closer the film gets to the fatefu European tour which featured the Bataclan appearance, the greater and more worrisome everything becomes.

…And then the film fades to black for a second and the date – November 13, 2015 – appears.

As soon as the date comes up and the interviewer/narrator/filmmaker asks Jesse, “Let’s talk about the show. How would you describe the show before everything happened,” th tenor of the film changes completely. What follows from that moment is an absolutely crushing, first-person account of the tragedy at Bataclan. A series of voices – bandmembers, crew, fans – all stand together as jump cuts run furiously along and knit together the tragic sequence of events which occurred that day. It’s chaotic and terrifying and heartbreaking and infuriating all at the same time; the confusion which still lives in all the subjects transfers to viewers and the effect is completely unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in a film before. In its own way, it’s impossible to grasp or articulate the experience because the experience being articulated in the film is one that no one could hope to fathom unless they were there.

Finally, after about twelve minutes (is it twelve? Time loses meaning here), the assault on Bataclan is finished and, after some whirling denouement, the fall-out sets in. Crew members speak of visions which continue to haunt them, bandmembers appear – still obviously effected by the events – and others associated with the tragedy, but both time and the film’s movement march on and the healing tries to begin. With the help of U2, Eagles Of Death Metal return to the stage in Paris on December 7, 2015 and, while there are still tears shed and crushing concerns on everyone’s mind, the show goes on (fuck that – the show comes off as a triumph), and rock n’ roll heals a whole lot of souls. To simply say that the run-out of the film is cathartic doesn’t even come close to diong it justice.

When the credits roll on Nos Amis, that’s when viewers will realize that no other film in rock n’ roll is like this one. The music is not the centerpiece for this film at all (other than a live performance of “I Only Want You” at the end of the film, music doesn’t play much of a roll at all, actually), this film exposes the resilience of the human spirit against perfectly unreasonable odds. It is dark and abominable and it’s easy to say, “Thank god” in response to a statement like “There is no other film like it,” but those who see it will be glad they did – if a term like “glad”can apply. It will take them from the deepest recesses of sadness to the highest peaks of joy and really make viewers believe in the human spirit, in the process. It might sound unbelievable for someone who hasn’t seen the film, but it’s true. It is for that reason Nos Amis is an important film. [Bill Adams]


Nos Amis is available now on DVD, Blu-Rae and Amazon Video. Buy it here on Amazon.

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