Bros: After the Screaming Stops review – reunion doc cranks the cringe up to 11

Toe-curling levels of self-importance add a wincingly funny edge to this documentary about the reunion of an 80s boyband

For various reasons, my screaming was pretty much continuous throughout this bizarre and perhaps unintentionally gripping promo-doc about the stressful reunion of 80s boyband Bros: Matt and Luke Goss, back together in 2017 for one night only at London’s O2 Arena for their 30th anniversary.

Now they are in their 50s, with a slight resemblance to Benedict Cumberbatch, who might want to play them in the feature-film version. (The title is taken from the sly question once put to them in their pomp by Terry Wogan: what would they do when the screaming stopped?) If you can imagine a Traveling Wilburys-type combo of Alan Partridge on drums, Nigel Tufnel on guitar and David Brent on vocals (and maybe Les McQueen as manager), you’ll have some idea of the tragicomic self-importance summoned up by the Bros reunion and the extraordinarily solemn thoughts being shared by the brothers in the runup to the big show. We aren’t privy to the discussions that led to this reunion. Perhaps we needed a Mrs Merton-style interview to discover what first attracted them to the idea. And the film skates over the existence of Craig Logan, the bassist and third Bros member, who quit to go into management.

We begin with some startling scenes from the brothers’ current existence in the US, as they separately muse on their lives. Matt is now a regular solo player in Vegas and he shows us around his sumptuous home. Luke is earning a crust in LA, acting in straight-to-video thrillers. We see Luke gazing thoughtfully out to sea, telling us sentimentally how much he loves London: “Big Ben! The Embankment! Cab drivers!” (Has Luke Goss ever been to London?) When the boys arrive back in Blighty to commence rehearsals, their intense dislike of each other resurfaces. Luke, the drummer, resents being told how to do his job by his brother, the preening lead vocalist. Agonisingly, Luke advertises his muso status by wearing T-shirts with other bands’ names on them (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Green Day) and there is a toe-curling moment when he starts lecturing the session musicians, telling them they should have the passion and commitment of Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their faces are a picture.

The day of the gig dawns and tempers are lost. (“Rome wasn’t built in a day – and we don’t have the time that Rome had.”) The concert itself goes off reasonably, although it is all too clear that the brothers do not have the resources for a Take That-style reinvention, and must surely resign themselves to Gallagher-like separateness. Matt and Luke deserve something for speaking so candidly about the loss of their mother and sister, and for allowing their hideous rows to be captured on camera.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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