I was never going to sleep, after a documentary like that!!
A richly, visual statement-of-intent, of two, larger-than-life-sized personalities, whose high-definition, practically perpendicular, emotional narratives could barely be contained within the confines of a physical cinema frame, in super-surround sound… but could only, ever, have been retold upon it…
The culmination of twenty-four months worth of painstaking preparation, five months worth of seventeen-hour days, in meticulous editing and a close-shave with divorce, the outcome is an absolute masterclass in audiovisual story-telling, executed under the distinctly genius co-direction of David Soutar and Joe Pearlman.
From the opening gambit, a volcanic eruption of an expletive-filled argument, “Bros: After The Screaming Stops” is, often, as devastatingly shocking to the system as an arctic ice-bucket challenge, with frequently frosty exchanges, to match… a fraught insider’s guide into a restless sibling rivalry, revisited, in agonising detail, en route to the most significant concert series of their lives… a career-redefining reunion!!
Set against the backdrop of being one of the most successful British bands of all time, the doors to the lives of Luke and Matt Goss, aren’t just flung open, but positively, blown off, to reveal the devastating effect of personal tragedy and charts the grossly unfair vilification from a media-machine, ravenously ready for new fodder, at the merest sign of a preconceived “dip” in chart positions.
Skilfully-crafted, so as to keep you constantly poised on the knife-edge of your psychological seat, it is the scattered remnants, strewn upon the battlefield of historical fall-out, woven into the contextual highs, lows, turning points and epiphanies, that has you rooting for these profoundly sensitive souls, fighting to co-exist, once again, determined to be heard and fiercely passionate about emerging with a relationship, purged of the poison that tore them apart, so cataclysmically.
Were this a mere petri-dish observation of the behavioural tendencies of twin brothers, you could, perhaps, maintain a, somewhat, clichéd distance… In fact, a lesser offering might have been exactly that… but, in being, documentary, first, with the aspirational by-product of intensely pleasing the fans, it is a truly impacting, non-patronising, non-judgmental exploration of life, on an epic scale.
Quite frankly, they’ve been judged enough and so, this is Bros, 30 years later… setting the records straight, in dynamic, heart-breaking, glorious technicolour. They are not boys. Not highly-conceptual living images, becoming, literal, pop art, growing up in front of the piercing eyes of a fast-paced, global hit-factory, called the Music Industry… Not apprentices, on, arguably, the most public on-the-job training course…
No. Emphatically, not.
Years have passed.
These objets d’art have evolved into men. Now 50. They are forces of nature… Even more impressive Artists, reinvented and rebirthed, in their own right, albeit, predominantly Stateside, due to the haranguing experienced in the place that they should always have been able to call “Home”.
The reconstruction phase has made for bolder, braver, artisanal entrepreneurs, with extensive bodies of work, who are no longer slaves to fear of reprisals… Having cultivated their respective and respected creative careers in, both, music and film, to exponential critical acclaim, they know who they are, what they have to bring to the table and, most crucially, we see that they have the captivating ability to articulate it… No matter how raw the consequential exchanges, in order to do so…
Whether or not you have this foreknowledge, it is clear that the pressure release-valve has, long been, much needed.
The chance to spill their guts. To tear the plasters off emotional wounds, cut the callouses and learn to heal… Much like Luke’s hands, as he relearnt the drums… remembered the joy of playing and rediscovered how incredibly gifted at it, he is. As if driving out demons with every strike on the skins of the, Christmas-come-early, kit… he crashes cymbals and beats out bass rhythms as if, not only the heartbeat of the musical set, but his life depends upon it… Meanwhile, as Matt seems mired by the subliminal strangle-hold of serpents, wound around his vocal chords, post another communication collapse…his commitment to authentically deliver, no matter what, is spine-tinglingly inspirational and puts a lump in your own throat. At times, barely breaking-even, when attempting to perform songs (the candid nature, of which, harshly rake over the coals of, nigh-on unbearable, memories), serves to facilitate their family bond, which gets them through the contempt of familiarity.. and has them surmounting it all, so tenderly and touchingly, together…
Yes, this is their opportunity to tell it like it is, on their own terms… and boy, do they take it.. and, boy, how privileged are we, for the first-hand access to every twist and turn!
Of course, there is light relief… There has to be… and it is immensely welcomed!
Coupled with capturing their lives through multiple lenses, tiredness from the relentless schedule tends to precipitate Matt’s most magical moments to camera… from anecdotal musing, over 7-hour man-scaping sessions… to public service announcements about the need to play conkers without goggles, he is the younger… the playful, puppy-like energy, with a deep-rooted desire to ensure that all around him are happy, especially Luke… the elder, with a more self-contained, yet no less rapier-sharp, glint-in-the-eye, wit.
There are also beautifully lucid descriptions of the journey, from both…
Pontificating about the metaphorical road upon which he and his Brother are travelling, Matt has a way of clutching at the air, as if to catch the ideas which hover in his divergent and visionary thought process. Luke has a wonderfully pragmatic and linear manner of soul and self-expression, citing their collaborative experience as two people, each with a brush, trying to paint onto one canvas…
…which makes it all-the-more important for them to do so, within the rehearsal space… the arena for most of their tussles for creative territory… or the green rooms of television studios… both, of which, see Matt and Luke crumble like the very old wall in their lyrics…. and makes them all-the-more remarkable, for their selfless ability to shelve conflict, when meeting with their precious M.G.A (Matt Goss Army) and L.G.A (Luke Goss Army)… The long-time devotees who have, admittedly, been their constant, through the proverbial and material wind, rain and sunshine of their lives.
It is an astonishing resilience and composure, reminiscent of that which they were forced to develop, literally overnight, after receiving the devastating news that their dear sister Carolyn had tragically passed in a car crash…. and again, after the earth-shattering loss of their beloved Mother despite her valiant battle against cancer.
This, for me, is where the documentary, further, comes into its own.
Sharing their sorrow, the distress is undeniable, the tears, tangible… Yet, the sheer courage to be so vulnerable, sets them apart, as superhumanly strong.. It is deeply humbling and admirable…with a cathartic power that is palpable and pure. From high stakes to high hopes, you cannot counterfeit these feelings of carrying dangerous dynamite, on a, seemingly endless, bumpy road.
Nor can you deny them the triumphant ending… and why would you?!!
Two unforgettable nights at the O2, which sold out in a record-breaking, number-of-completion, 7 seconds, cap-off a rapturous return to the height of the music game, without game-playing… proof positive that this pain-through-the-pixels is the acute birth pang of regeneration… that such pain, can and does, become Purpose.
What is even more evident, is that we are seeing the most promising incarnation of Bros, yet….
They have lived up to the past, broken through its spectres and exceeded expectations.. and by the film’s conclusion, you feel that, as the band-entity and, moreover, as Brothers, they should, never again, exit the stage, separately… and you trust and believe, that, having survived this warts-and-all bootcamp, they won’t ever let that happen…
…they won’t ever allow such rupture through disruption to be felt again, because they are a re-united front, who are stronger than ever…
Therefore, see this, perfect pitch-ure of reconnection, as a matter of priority…
“Bros: After The Screaming Stops” is no ordinary documentary… but, then again, the Goss Brothers are no ordinary siblings… pigeon-hole these fine examples of spiritual ambassadors at your peril… They have been, misguidedly, typecast and underestimated before… and just look at the extraordinary legacy which is following them, now..
As one proud Brosette tearfully declared, even if the world-at-large wouldn’t tell them, they are so loved… and with new music and a 2019 tour on the way, I can categorically state that, after the screening stops and the most beautifully empowering lessons begin, within…
…the screaming and the legends, themselves, continue…
…Long may they reign!
© A_F_R_O_W2018. All Rights Reserved.
See “Bros: After The Screaming Stops” (In Cinemas: 09/ 11/ 2018)
Buy “Bros: After The Screaming Stops” (On DVD/ Digital Release: 12/ 11/ 2018)