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A Mighty Wind

Director: Christopher Guest

U.S.A.| 2003. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 91 minutes.


Christopher Guest’s latest slice of deadpan ‘mockumentary’ takes a wryly affectionate look at the world of folk music, re-imagining the original Spinal Tap members-Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer, all frankly unrecognisable here-as ageing acoustic trio The Folkmen. Like other key players in the ‘Great Folk Music Scare’ of the 1960s, they congregate for a tribute concert to a recently departed folk maven, organised by his unduly anxious son (Bob Balaban). At the heart of Guest’s tale are ex-lovers Mitch and Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara), the epitome of ’60s idealism until their partnership was torn apart by heartbreak, leaving Levy’s Mitch a broken shell (wait until you see the solo albums!). Will they reunite for a reprise of their classic ‘A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow’? Rather crucially, A Mighty Wind’s musical numbers, by and large written, played and performed by the cast themselves, are unerringly spot-on. Indeed, in true post-modern fashion, the film’s soundtrack has even been embraced by American folk radio!
There are those who have suggested that Guest has milked this particular genre dry. Quite the contrary. A Mighty Wind proves beyond any doubt that as a filmmaker he’s only beginning to tap (no pun intended) into deeper emotional territory, as evidenced by the career-best performances he elicits from both Levy and O’Hara. It’s extremely funny to boot, and all you Fred Willard fans out there will undoubtedly appreciate both the man’s stunning blonde barnet and top catch phrase: ‘Hey, wha’ happened!’

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