By Gregory Crofton
As enjoyable and important as this documentary is, its release streaming on Netflix just two days after it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival is as noteworthy as the documentary itself.
People around the world are watching this film on Netflix essentially at the same time the cinematic tastemakers are. This change in distribution will surely alter things for documentary filmmakers and for television in both good and bad ways.
While this documentary began as a promotional video for Richards new record, CROSSEYED HEART, it was expanded by Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 FEET FROM STARDOM) into a feature film, and it ultimately feels like both of these things.
Richards is not one to open up. Neville knew he had to take only what he could get. What comes out are glimpses of Richards’ raw intelligence and doses of his reverence for the mystery of music, especially the amalgamation that is Rock ‘n’ Roll.
In the film, Tom Waits, who is a friend of Richards’ and on occasion collaborates with him, reveals how performers need to take on a persona as a type of armor in order to survive for any amount of time in the public eye. This is true for Richards. The most poignant moment in “KEITH RICHARDS: UNDER THE INFLUENCE” comes when Richards drops his persona for a few seconds while thinking about a deep question from Neville. His answer and look at the camera makes the whole doc worth watching.
It’s then that the project switches from promotional video to a true documentary about a man named Keith Richards whose music has influenced millions.