Anonymous Club Documentary

SXSW Review: ‘Anonymous Club’

March 18, 2022Ben MK

From The Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter to The Beatles: Get Back, the music documentary genre encompasses a far-reaching collection of films that have covered some of the biggest bands in the world, allowing fans to get up close and personal with their favorite artists through backstage footage, interviews and recordings from live performances. With Anonymous Club, however, director Danny Cohen is altering the formula, giving audiences a deeply personal look at depression and mental health — one that also happens to be from the point of view of a singer-songwriter at a crossroads.

A Grammy-nominated artist whose debut album, 2015's "Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit," sold 500,000 copies worldwide, Courtney Barnett is no stranger to the rock-and-roll lifestyle. She's played venues around the world, appeared on such late night talk shows as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel Live, and has become something of an icon for her millions of fans. However, as she prepared to embark on a tour in support of her 2018 album, "Tell Me How You Really Feel," the then-30-year-old found herself wondering what the point of it all was. It's a question many people have no doubt asked themselves at one point or another. But for Barnett, a famously shy and private individual who periodically struggles with depression and anxiety, it proved to be something of a turning point. After all, why go through the motions of putting on a show for audiences night after night if there was no actual motivation for doing so? It's the sense of purpose that was missing, and it would be something Barnett would need to discover if she was going to be able to carry on.

Unlike many music documentaries, the result doesn't bother to shed any insight into Barnett's upbringing, or delve into any other crucial biographical details of that nature. On the contrary, Anonymous Club plays more like a movie version of one of her songs. Yes, it's a little rough around the edges, but there's genuine emotional sincerity here, not to mention a fair few poetic words of wisdom and some killer guitar riffs.

Anonymous Club screens under the 24 Beats Per Second section at the 2022 South by Southwest Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 23 min.

You May Also Like