out of Five
Running time: 97
Davis Guggenheim's documentary is very much a film of two halves – the personal stories are informative, interesting and nicely illustrated but the central meeting between the three men lacks both passion and personality.
What's it all about?
It Might Get Loud centres on a once-in-a-lifetime meeting between three generations of electric guitar virtuosos, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, U2's The Edge and The White Stripes' Jack White. As the three men prepare to meet up and jam together on an empty soundstage, each of them discusses their own musical history and provides a guided tour to various locations that were influential in their lives.
The personal stories are both informative and interesting, thanks to a wealth of terrific archive footage; there's even an enjoyable animated sequence to accompany one of White's anecdotes. The travelogue approach also serves to highlight their different backgrounds: White was a furniture upholsterer from Detroit, The Edge was already in what would become U2 as a Dublin schoolboy, whilst Page was a studio musician who clearly didn't set out to achieve fame. The most amusing moment of the film comes during an archive interview with a very young Page who, guitar in hand, earnestly discusses his intention to become a biochemist.
The film also offers intriguing glimpses into their influences and work methods; highlights include The Edge unearthing a box of cassette tapes containing various familiar guitar riffs and Jack White playing a recording of his favourite song.
Unfortunately, the much-touted meeting that the film builds towards is something of an anti-climax. You're expecting a heartfelt meeting of the minds in which the three men excitedly discuss their love of music but instead there's very little conversation, beyond each of them showing off their signature accoutrements (Page's double-necked guitar, The Edge's effects pedals and White's custom-built guitar).
It's also curiously devoid of both personality and passion – indeed, it's hard not to conclude that Guggenheim only conceived of the personal backgrounds half of the film after the meeting proved such a wash-out. In addition, Guggenheim's decision to forego the usual talking heads approach robs us of the perspective that other band members might have brought to the project.
It Might Get Loud is an unusual musical documentary that's both informative and frustrating in equal measure, though fans of The Edge, Page or White can probably add an extra star.
It Might Get Loud (N/A)