British Film Festival Review: Liam Gallagher: As It Was

This extraordinary documentary feature examines Liam Gallagher’s fall from grace, and remergence with the seminal album As You Were

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In 2009 the music world was shocked when brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher had a fight so devastating that it broke up their mega-band Oasis.

Noel being the main song-writer, Liam was left with no music to sing, without the band that had been his life, and in the middle of a messy and public divorce. The inevitable downhill slide began, along with the fall from grace. This documentary charts his climb back out of the mire, and takes a look at the man behind the myth.

Including interviews with his partner and manager Debbie Gwyther, his “other” brother Paul, his mother and his sons, this is a surprisingly intimate portrait of a man often seen as brash, arrogant and foul-mouthed. Gwyther at one stage says that the Noel she fell in love with was the one we see with his family, not the one we see in the media.

Gallagher is certainly still a swearer par excellence. But maturity has brought more self-insight and a warm humour. Like most seemingly arrogant people, he is a man riddled with self-doubt, at no time more than when Oasis fell apart.

But this feature is above all a music documentary. We see Gallagher working on his 2017 solo album As You Were which put him back on the musical map. His discovery of his own song-writing abilities is one of the more engaging themes in this film.

Directors Gavin Fitzgerald and Charlie Lightening are both highly experienced music documentary makers. The whole work moves at a cracking pace, using music video techniques as well as standard talking-heads interviews.

Although Gallagher is perhaps not quite the charismatic man he (or others) like to think he is, his story and character are both engaging enough to keep the audience’s interest. Fitzgerald and Lightening respect the man without tipping into hagiography, keeping the focus mainly on the music.

Even if you are not a huge Oasis/Gallagher fan, this is a well-made documentary with overlapping themes of artistic and personal redemption, maturity, family, love and above all, the irreplaceable loss of a brother.

Liam Gallagher: As It Was currently screens as part of the MINI British Film Festival at PalaceNova Eastend and Prospect.

Click here for screening times.

LIVELY 3.5 stars

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