Shooting Livien review by The Grim Ringler

Shooting Livien

Shooting Livien

A lot of us were kids that wanted to be rock stars. Wanting to be the star, the center of attention, and the icon. But those that really loved music wanted not to be a star, because they fade, but to become immortal, as only a few musicians are. As someone like John Lennon is. This is the idea behind Shooting Livien a beautiful film that can be hard to hold at times but which, in its earnestness, really humanizes the madness of obsession

John Livien grew up in the shadow of John Lennon, being weaned on his music and held up as an heir to that rock icons throne. But the shadow of the man that became his hero is a long one and one thats very hard to escape. Surviving a mother with a deep emotional illness, Livien becomes a musician and singer for a bar band on the verge of success. The band is at a crossroads though. While they want to play for the music, and for the art, they also have to live, which means playing weddings and political functions, which they hate. But there is light at the end of this tunnel there is a label interested in them. Very interested in them. But they have to prove that theyre a band that isnt a fluke, but that has the inner strength and drive to become not just good but great. On the eve of all this Livien is falling apart. Torn between the art and the commerce, the illness of his mother is beginning to show in him. Drawn to drugs, booze, and women, he begins acting and seemingly believing he is John Lennon. Patient like saints, his two band mates stick by him, as does his girlfriend, who believes in him enough to marry him. As much as those around him try to love and protect him though, Livien is falling apart, the only moments where he seems sane to be when he is playing his music. He is haunted more and more by the memories of his mothers emotional collapse, is pressured by the idea of recording a record and becoming a famous band, and is becoming paranoid about the intentions of the people in his life. As he starts slipping away, the shadow of John Lennon becomes the shadow of his mother, a shadow he truly cant outrun. The madness becomes too much and Livien slips into his own world, a world even the love of those around him may not be able to save him from.

A very melancholy film, its still a very compelling story. The cast is wonderful and really shines here, especially Jason Behr as Livien.

The character gets on my nerves, a LOT, but then thats due to really good acting. You are not necessarily going to like Livien. Hes a true artist, no doubt, but hes so emotionally damaged that its hard not to pity those around him more than him. There is a dark foreboding to the film as well, as we expect Livien to self-destruct, and he does, but there is hope in that. Hope in the idea of rebuilding after you lose everything. The music is also really well done and adds another dimension to the film. Sure, this band is no Beatles but they might well have made an impact had they gotten past their troubles.

Therein lies the rub though, and what makes for such an interesting film the madness. How many of us hear of or love bands that never quite achieved what they might have because of troubles in the band that, we, as outsiders, wonder how that could have killed something so beautiful. The madness of Livien shows that, as talented and beautiful his soul may be, he has to overcome that hurdle and he may not have that inner strength. But its the fight that makes this interesting.

The big problem in the film is the pacing. Its really slow, which, for a dark drama, can be very hard to take. The music becomes key to keeping the mood from getting too grim, but its still pretty bleak stuff. Also, if you are not a fan of John Lennon this may get a bit long in the tooth for you. Its important to note though that this is about obsession, and about the loss of the self in the pursuit of becoming someone else.

A beautiful and tragic film, this is a very good drama with some damned good music. Dark in its nature, but buoyed by the music and the love Livien is surrounded by, its definitely worth a look. Fans of music may get the most out of this, but its a movie a lot of people are going to get into.


7 out of 10 Jackasses
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