Aug 03, 2022
By Matthew Berlyant
Anonymous Club, a new documentary on Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett, was filmed in vivid 16mm and based on Barnett’s diaries from 2018 (when her second album Tell Me How You Really Feel came out) up until last year. Named after one of her early songs, the Danny Cohen-directed film is the opposite of the traditional “Behind the Music” style rock star documentary with its ups and downs, celebrating success and comebacks after difficulties, etc. Instead, somewhat in the style of recent “warts and all” style documentaries chronicling the daily life of major celebrities like Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, it plainly chronicles her plain-spoken, painfully shy (but with the hint of a prankster’s sense of humor) unpretentious nature, and unlikely standing as an internationally-known rock star given her beginnings in Melbourne’s exploding indie rock scene back in the early 2010s.
In other words, Anonymous Club chronicles Barnett’s public struggle with depression, anxiety, and the like and so it feels like an hour and a half long therapy session at times. While it is comforting for listeners and fans to know that their heroes are going through the same struggles as many others are, it still feels like there’s something slightly missing here. It’s known that Barnett ended a long-term relationship around this time, yet that is never addressed, nor is the weight of the still-going pandemic addressed at all, either. That said, these are minor squabbles and viewers can read between the lines. Most importantly, it does seem like Barnett has come out of the other side in a more positive direction and feeling better than she did, reflected in her most recent album, last year’s These Things Take Time, Take Time. The film also features several concert performances at large outdoor festivals and a great scene involving a fan from Shanghai that just reinforces the humanity and tenderness that this film was made with. (www.anonymousclubfilm.com)
Author rating: 7/10
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