Mission to Lars is an interesting exploration in coping with disability. It begins with Tom Spicer who has a form of autism known as Fragile X. His sister Kate and brother William are journalists/filmmakers who decided to get to know their brother better. After seeing how much of a fan of rock group Metallica Tom is, they formed a plan. Helping him to meet its drummer Lars Ulrich, they travelled America in order for him to meet his idol.
Whilst it’s easy making a documentary, making it entertaining is difficult. Mission to Lars succeeds in remaining compelling to the end. Although walking a familiar trajectory, the journey, in achieving the ultimate goal, provides the most interest. Saying the ‘journey’ word conjures all sorts of dodgy connotations although it’s mostly used to good effect here. There are indeed moments of ‘playing to the camera’ and heavy-handiness in its theme but the people involved captivate enough to withstand such quibbles.
It’s fascinating how the one barrier in meeting Lars is Tom himself. His disability prevents him from engaging in the social mores most take for granted. His constant changes in mood are shown in all its frustrating, upsetting and joyful glory. How Kate and William develop their understanding of their sibling’s manner is well shown as is the detailed explanation of his condition. They ensure the mood is generally kept light and ultimately makes Mission to Lars an uplifting essay in having goals.
Giving a dignified portrayal of someone overcoming barriers, Mission to Lars is worth seeing. It also proves that no matter whom or what we are there is always a super-fan in all of us.
Mission to Lars screens Monday 25 November at 8:45pm at the Palace Nova Eastend cinemas.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 7