There’s a moment in Get Better, Frank Turner during which Mr. Turner himself expresses some fear over his latest studio album. He comments how he doesn’t want to just make a “Frank Turner” album which will satisfy his current fans but be a bore or a nuisance to those who don’t follow him. So it’s painfully ironic that this documentary provides little of value for anyone besides those who already support Frank passionately.
The film covers a period of Frank’s life during which he and his band have just finished a mammoth tour, been signed to a major record label, and are planning the recording and release of a new album. The doc also attempts to weave in elements of Frank’s personal life and his struggles too. But in the end it all feels like a dissatisfying jumble, with no aspects of Frank’s personal or professional lifestyle really getting the focus and exposure they need to truly serve as an interesting music documentary.
Take, for example, his occasionally wild lifestyle and troubles with alcohol. There are lots of talking heads explaining how Frank loves the odd blackout binge, but there is nowhere near enough video evidence to back this up. The audience is shown one performance during which Frank sounds ropey as shit, and that’s about it. Then the topic is swiftly swept under the rug to talk about something else. It all feels rushed, and you never get the in-depth look at Frank that you desire from the documentary.
And this is the overriding flaw of the film. It’s not in-depth enough. Too many important topics are addressed and then tossed aside. By the time the end credits start rolling, you either have no idea and no care for who Frank Turner is, or you knew it all already as you’re a die-hard fan. Sure, the soundtrack is pretty enjoyable and the editing and cinematography does enough to keep your attention, but is it really worth your time? Probably not.
Let’s compare it quickly to my favourite music documentary in recent memory: Anvil! The Story of Anvil. I knew absolutely nothing about that band. Literally zilch. But director Sacha Gervasi knew that many people in the audience would be just as unaware as I, and he knew that he had to make a captivating documentary that would get people to care. And he did it perfectly. That movie had the emotion and insight to make the audience truly care for the band, and we wanted to know more about them and see them succeed.
Comparatively, Ben Morse settles for the simplest of overviews of a supposedly vital time in Frank Turner’s life, with inadequate insight and exploration. The most die-hard fans might find this worth the watch, but I’m a fan, and after an hour and a half I almost give no fucks about Frank or that period of his life. Yawn.
Dir: Ben Morse
Cast: Frank Turner, Billy Bragg
Prd: Charlie Caplowe, Xtra Mile Recordings, Ben Morse, Scott Keys
Music: Matt Nasir
Run Time: 93 min