On the Road review – rock doc romance

Michael Winterbottom’s fictional love story set against footage of the British band Wolf Alice on tour hits a flat note

Those whose ears pricked up when they discovered Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People, The Trip) had made a documentary about British rock band Wolf Alice may not be surprised to learn that despite the thrills of its live performance scenes, On the Road isn’t quite a concert film. Instead, the band are the pretence for a romance that unfolds against a backdrop of tour buses, hotel rooms and underground clubs. The lovers are two fictional characters (actors Leah Harvey and James McArdle), who fold into the real touring crew that travel with the band. It’s a compelling conceit and, indeed, the “docudrama” has long been Winterbottom’s directorial “project”, combining verité-style naturalism and improvisation to create an atmosphere of imagined reality. Still, the film’s prosaic title is a clue. The love story pads out the running time to a baggy two hours; fans of the band might prefer to see them On the Stage instead.

Watch a clip from On the Road.
Simran Hans

The GuardianTramp

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