The Sparks Brothers
The Sparks Brothers is a feature film documentary on not-a-British band Sparks. Like any Edgar Wright film (see Baby Driver and Scott Pilgrim vs the World) its soundtrack plays a heavy role in setting tone. This is immediately evident at the beginning where sounds of feel-good nostalgia chime in, undeterred by the greyscale filter. In typical documentary fashion, it starts with a montage of snippets that best showcase the subject. A series of different hosts call out and introduce Sparks throughout the opening, alongside old clips of their performances and music videos and comments from various industry folks and celebrities.
This is followed by an FAQ with Sparks, in which they answer questions vaguely in quite a comedic manner. Even someone who may have never actually heard of the band is likely to be enticed to learn more because of the charisma oozing from the screen. The visuals only amplify the playful and enigmatic energy associated with Sparks. Puns, props, text and transitions elevate the documentary from simply a recount of the brothers’ careers, to an actual cinematic experience – which is fitting, because of their early love for film.
After a quick taste of their life growing up, the icons dive straight into their albums. The best parts of this section are the little anecdotes between each memory, providing more intricate details than a simple Google search can yield. The parallels drawn between Sparks and The Rubettes at the peak of This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us are a highlight. Also a clever touch is the substitution of cartoon animations for the stories without available archival footage. And throughout, everyone interviewed shares their favourite lyrics, specifically to define that era of their music, or that specific single and album.
One can really appreciate the quality of the camerawork and cinematic style, along with the passage of time in this documentary. The choice of greyscale becomes more prevalent as the film goes on; instead of past events being portrayed with this filter and the present in colour, the effect is reversed. This showcases the timelessness of Sparks, providing some comfort “in the fact something this weird can survive that long without getting corrupted ultimately into something less weird”.
The Sparks Brothers is released digitally on demand on 29th July 2021.
For further information about Sundance London 2021 visit here.
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Watch the trailer for The Sparks Brothers here: