CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • PG
  • Documentary, Music
  • 2013
  • 111 mins

Muscle Shoals

Film4

Synopsis

A documentary focusing on Rick Hall, the founder of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and the signature sound he developed in famous songs including The Rolling Stones’ "Brown Sugar" and Percy Sledge’s "When a Man Loves a Woman".

About

Nobody would accuse retrograde '90s Brummie Brit-poppers Ocean Colour Scene of being trailblazers, but when they named their 1996 album 'Moseley Shoals' in a respectful nod to the Alabama home of FAME - the studio profiled in this documentary - they proved to be surprisingly ahead of the curve. In its late '60s/early '70s heyday, FAME generated an exceptional musical output, and director Greg Chevalier’s film profiles the man behind the magic: enigmatic studio boss Rick Hall. Hall, we find, has experienced a lifetime’s worth of hardship (bereavement, financial issues) to accompany the success, and though he is ultimately a stoic and flinty character, the film is at its most moving when we see flashes of emotion showing on his face.

Hall’s story is afforded plenty of additional colour and character by a host of high-profile contributors, who offer their own reflections on the era. The spirited recollections of singer Wilson Pickett (‘In The Midnight Hour’) are particularly enjoyable, as he casts light on often fraught recording sessions. The Rolling Stones’ cackling Keith Richards, meanwhile, continues to meld lascivious with cadaverous in his own inimitable way. Less tolerable is the almost inevitable surfacing of walking self-awareness bypass Bono, who arrives to spout a host of toe-curling platitudes about race in America. Indeed, the film’s general attitude to race is a little curious. It seems in terrible pains to stress that the white musicians (The Swampers) who provided the heart and soul of the Muscle Shoals were not just good, but the best.

Chevalier ties proceedings together with a consistent aesthetic sensibility, and conjures an evocative atmosphere through the use of attractive outdoor photography and gently sweeping vistas of the rolling Deep South backwoods. However, this anecdote-heavy film seems overly constructed, and on more than one occasion I got the distinct impression we weren’t being told quite the full story.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Keith Richards, Bono

In a nutshell

Warm, enjoyable, smooth and lightweight, this celebratory documentary is a gentle tribute to a remarkable man and his work. It also, of course, has a great soundtrack, but you’ll be left wanting something a little deeper and more detailed.

by Ashley Clark

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Shell

    Shell

    Scott Graham's award-winning Highland drama, starring Chloe Pirrie as a teenager who works at a remote petrol station

    On Film4: 4 Aug 11:05PM

  • Film4 Just Wright

    Just Wright

    Queen Latifah plays a physical therapist falling for Common's recovering basketball pro in this romantic comedy

    On Film4: 1 Aug 5:10PM

  • Film4 Mistaken For Strangers

    Mistaken For Strangers on Film4

    Indie rock band The National are followed on their tour by the frontman's brother, an aspiring filmmaker

  • Film4 Betty Blue

    Betty Blue on Film4

    Béatrice Dalle stars as the beautiful and unpredictable Betty Blue in Jean-Jacques Beineix's romantic drama on Film4

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Tweets @Film4

  • @spookycouches We love you too!

  • @jackjhaynes Sooooo handsome. The Riot Club cast are pretty easy on the eye too: http://t.co/3d9sk0N664

  • @iamstillKarlie @Pinterest @Convo_Pieces Oh cool, will do! Same name on Pinterest?

  • That might be enough Pinterest links for now? But feel free to take a look and let us know if you like/hate/meh/love. http://t.co/jcsMHidDBc

  • Our Film4 Summer Screen @somersethouse @Pinterest board mixes @PrintClubLondon prints with film stills and events: http://t.co/I7bWzn46rJ

Share