Directed by Christopher Guest
Running Time: 91 mins
A Mighty Wind is the latest "mockumentary" from Christopher Guest. I went warily to this film because of his previous offering, Best in Show.
Best in Show reminded me how film reviewing is fallible. I gave that film a luke warm review, but after being forced to watch it twice more on an overseas flight, I discovered that I had made a mistake. It was much better that I had previously judged it to be. Indeed, it was a very funny film, and most of the other coach class passengers thought so as well.
So I went to A Mighty Wind with big expectations. Maybe I need to see this mockumentary at 30,000 feet as well, because it was, on first viewing, a disappointment.
A Mighty Wind is about a 2002 reunion of the three biggest groups of the 1960's folk music phenomenon: Mitch and Mindy; The New Street Singers; and The Folksmen. Mitch (Levy) is a shell of a man due to drug abuse and a nervous breakdown. The now-married Mindy (O'Hara) hasn't seen Mitch for years, but is still in love with him. The Folksmen find they have to work on their harmonies on every level. And we discover that there is nothing new about The New Street Singers because Terry Bohner (John Higgins) has maintained a tight ship since 1968.
There ars several funny scenes, especially since we know that Guest's directorial style allows the actors to do a lot of improvisation and to make up the dialogue as they go. Some of the to-camera pieces are hilarious.
So why doesn't it work? Maybe because the film ends up as soppy as the lyrics they sing. Maybe it's that folk music is still a mainstay in the US music industry in a way that it is not in Australia. I think it is more to do with the lack of any real drama in the story. The dog show bought out the knives. The musical reunion only warms up the chords.
A Mighty Wind is a pleasant rather than a riotous film, so you may want to wait until it comes onto the in-flight entertainment system.
Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.