Supersonic review: nothing innovative, surprising or quirky - just like Oasis, really
Mat Whitecross's doc doesn’t look back in anger (or in any useful detail) at the rise of the Gallagher brothers - though Noel proves himself worth the price of admission
Film Title: Supersonic
Director: Mat Whitecross
Starring: Liam Gallagher, Noel Gallagher, Paul Arthurs, Peggy Gallagher, Tony McCarroll
Running Time: 121 min
Why would you bother making a film about a phenomenon so uninteresting as Oasis? The Burnage Quo were not an altogether bad thing. The drunkest person in a stag party will have more fun singing Don’t Look in Back in Anger than anything by Lighthouse Family.
There was, however, nothing innovative, surprising or quirky about the group’s assaultive pub rock. Surely, nobody wakes up in the morning wondering how Roll With It came into existence.
There are intimations here that Mat Whitecross, director of the excellent Ian Dury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, secretly shares these heretical opinions. Supersonic makes little attempt to address the evolution of the songs. (Perhaps, they didn’t want to further trouble lawyers representing T Rex, Manfred Man and Gary Glitter.)
More puzzlingly, the film completely ignores the cultural and political noise that attended the band’s brash rise and weary decline. It counts as a perverse achievement to compile a documentary on the band David Quantick called “The Beatles for murderers” without even mentioning Blur or Tony Blair. It’s a little like making a film on Rod Hull without referencing Emu.
Whitecross begins with the band’s triumphant arrival at Knebworth in 1996 – confirmation they were the new dinosaurs rather than the new punk rock – and then meanders back to humble beginnings in Manchester. James Gay-Rees, producer of the vastly superior Amy, is back behind the chequebook and Supersonic shares that film’s rigid aesthetic: fresh interviews flood the soundtrack, but we see only archive footage on screen.
It’s an effective technique. The impression is of memories drifting through the interviewees’ heads while they editorialise for our benefit. The playful animations add a suitably cheeky flavour.
The film’s undoubted selling point is, of course, Noel Gallagher. In the course of Supersonic, he describes himself as a cat (solitary, internal) to Liam’s dog (noisy, desperate for attention). That sounds about right. Noel is also one of the best raconteurs in the music business. It’s hard to think of anybody who so satisfactorily blends braggadocio and self-deprecation. The subtext of Supersonic might be: we’re chancers, but we’re brilliant chancers.
It’s a real shame Noel isn’t encouraged to direct his wit at the more fecund, outer corners of the Oasis odyssey. Might the older Gallagher, an executive producer, be a little embarrassed about a potential unearthing of that photograph showing him beaming at Blair?
After all, he was the future once.