Music documentaries are often seen as an incredibly subjective strand of filmmaking. However, there have been occasions when the genre has managed to produce films which overcome the potentially alienating trappings of their subject matter and attract a wider audience than just those who religiously buy the records of the bands being distastefully thrust in front of the camera in order to acquire more royalties
Whether it’s through a raw and unrelentingly honest approach like Dig or by the surreal fictional method of something like I’m Not There, there’s certainly scope for a band biopic to be more than just the sum of its parts and veer towards being indispensible. Talihina Sky attempts to follow this tricky route but in its attempts to become more than just an overpriced, needless piece of record score merchandise it seems to have ignored Kings of Leon’s wider appeal and at the expense of the bands fans created a deeply personal film which forgoes their charismatic and distinctive sound in favour of a stronger focus on their journey from rags to riches.
Set primarily within Bible belt America where the band all grew up, we observe the community they once belonged to and all the trappings of Middle American life. The film infrequently touches on the internal conflicts within the band and briefly exposes their fall into the cliqued life of sex and drugs in rock and roll but the focus is strongly weighted towards the poor surroundings in which they managed to escape and little else of value or excitement. There’s very little live footage and surprisingly for a rock-u-mentary a distinct lack of music which becomes even more apparent the moment dawns that the increasingly mundane back-story stepped in religious symbolism is not just a prelude to a larger story of wayward rockers and the excesses of their lifestyle but in fact the premise of the entire film.
Whilst no doubt an insightful documentary that devout fans of the band may well reveal in (letting them get one step closer to understanding their idols) the film unfortunately holds little appeal for casual followers and fails to become anything more significant than a bonus feature for an underperforming album.