Stones In Exile - TV Review

'tries to satisfy as both a 'making of' documentary and a music video but ends up being a watered down mish-mash of both'

Premiering in Cannes this year, Stones In Exile is a Rolling Stones documentary which promises little and delivers less.

Narrowly focusing on the six months or so 'The Stones' spent at Keith Richards' palatial French estate in order to avoid a massive tax bill in the UK, the film starts promising to expand its focus by drawing on the political climate as the reason the band were forced to flee: surely an area rich in material considering the very nature of the band's music and the still-present zeitgeist of the late '60s.

Soon however, this is all abandoned in favour of a film which tries to satisfy as both a 'making of' documentary and a music video but ends up being a watered down mish-mash of both. Attempting to inject some much-needed vigour, director Stephen Kijak plays around with photographs for much of the runtime, whilst the soundtrack blends the dialogue of 'talking heads' interviews and music from the album which resulted from their time there, Exile On Main St..

The effect does nothing to make us more invested in the tale, perhaps instead doing the opposite. Pictures of opulence and decadence are displayed whilst band member after band member decries the 'difficult conditions'. Sure, recording in a cramped basement must have been tough for these multi-millionaire rock stars but all of them and Kijack, who needs more even-handedness if he wants to direct this sort of thing, seem to forget the girls, drugs, booze and extensive grounds waiting for them when they finish, only to talk about how great those parts were in the very next segments. It's hard to sympathise with their gripes.

Perhaps most worryingly in a film produced by several of the band, there's little criticism and a lot of hero worship. Kijack does point out that yes, there were kids present and no, making those kids role joints was probably not a good thing but that's where he stops, quickly changing track onto something a bit more 'rock and roll'. What could have at least been an odd curio for Stones fans to seek out instead ends up being an inconsequential piece of fan memorabilia that insults more than it entertains.

Look further...

'What’s lacking is any real dramatic structure or investigative bite' - Screen Daily

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