Music documentary

Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams review – from school days to stadiums | Music documentary

Jit’s a watchable, albeit celebratory and unchallenging portrait of a massive rock institution. He doesn’t see much need to look for flaws, problems, loose threads that could be pulled for everything to come undone. Even less is he looking for a Spinal Tap satire. It could be seen as part of an emerging musical documentary genre: the intimacy of home film, in which contemporary footage is intercut with a treasure trove of milky analog video showing the star’s heartbreaking moon-faced youth, filmed by friends or family (at school, first gigs, rehearsals in filthy student rooms, hungover morning commutes in buses and taxis).

This film looks back at Coldplay’s march to world domination over the past 20 years and focuses on touring their latest album, A Head Full of Dreams. Director Mat Whitecross cheekily plays us the audio of frontman Chris Martin’s phone conversation begging him not to start with the clichéd backstage image of the band stepping out to face his audience – and doing precisely that. It’s the only moment of tongue-in-cheek self-satire in an otherwise entirely reverent film.

Whitecross mixes the stunning footage of Coldplay’s gigantic live shows with behind-the-scenes material: Coldplay in the studio or in their offices, amiably discussing what should and shouldn’t be on the album, laughing, frowning, throwing a glare at enemies in the big screen press.

There are some dark memories. Drummer Will Champion was briefly fired before a contrite Martin won him back, and band manager and de facto fifth member Phil Harvey briefly quit before returning. These things aren’t dwelt on, and Martin’s conscious uncoupling from his ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow is also handled tactfully. (At one point, Martin talks about the group’s perfect interrelationship: “It’s like when bacon, eggs, mushrooms and fries all end up on the same plate.” A more sarcastic film would have opted for a gag. by Gwyneth.)

At one point, Martin comments that their collaborator Brian Eno works with groups that have become “massive and terrible at the same time; he finds a way to keep the massive but lose the terrible…” Whitecross’ film also keeps the massive, but insists that the massive is important, implying that ignoring or denigrating the huge success of Coldplay is obtuse. It could be true.

What stands out most clearly here is Martin’s face: an incandescent smile as a young man, lit up by the sheer joie de vivre and still quite happy now, but tempered and darkened by those private misfortunes the film leaves behind. out of frame.

This article was modified on November 7, 2018, to correct the star rating.