Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band

One brother’s view

In the ‘70s, a group of talented musicians created one of the tightest bands of their day, intuitively and faux-modestly calling themselves “The Band.” They were so good that Bob Dylan chose them to back him up for his infamous transition from acoustic to electric.

This rock doc is fairly straightforward and nothing if not well-named, as it focuses largely on the charismatic guitarist, who enjoyed the distinction of being the group’s frontman without also being its lead singer.  And while Robertson today proves to be an entertaining raconteur, this focus comes at the expense of the other members’ possible points of view regarding the eventual breakup. In the overall history of the group, this can be viewed as a missed opportunity to make what would have been an elegant conciliatory gesture. 

And at times, it falls into the inherent trap of most music documentaries, that of thinking everyone in the world will dig it as much as the core fans.

That said, it’s still a worthy watch, offering up comments by Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Martin Scorsese, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton and others, along with a wealth of archive footage. (100 min)