15th Aug2019

‘Liam Gallagher: As It Was’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Featuring: Liam Gallagher, David Adcock, Debbie Gwyther, Christian Madden, Drew McConnell, Dan McDougall, Jay Mehler, Mike Moore | Directed by Gavin Fitzgerald, Charlie Lightening

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Liam Gallagher: As It Was chronicles the eccentric and outlandish life of the infamous Mancunian frontman. Director Charlie Lightening pulls back the curtains on the eccentric icon and delivers an invigorating exploration of the hidden human being. Following the titular character from the infamous Oasis split, rushed formation of his second band, ending on Gallagher’s solo outing with his debut album.

Opening up the titular character and offering detailed insights. A difficult task for many- especially – that of a documentarian looking into such an enigmatic character. The boisterous icon takes the infamous mask off and speaks openly of his trials and tribulations that have plagued his life in the last ten years. The enigmatic character is no more. It seems the hard-boiled frontman has softened on his stances all round.

Gallagher’s frank discussion on how his manager and partner Debbie Gwyther has saved him from a life of drinking himself to death is awe-inspiring. A story ten years ago that would not have come from the frontman’s mouth. It is mesmerising what Lightening coaxes out from Gallagher in such honest inquiry. It is never a cheap ploy but a detailed exploration of the many shades and states of the man himself. It is an open and often disturbing account of the depths one’s mind can take you.

The depth and insight to Gallagher’s fall and eventual rise are exhilarating to see. The sheer level of how brittle and broken the frontman was and continues to be is bizarre and heartfelt. Liam offers detailed insight into the emotional, mental wreck he dragged himself through, touching upon brother Noel and his anxiety of having to depend on nobody but himself. Underneath the bravado and sarcasm, there is a stoic impressionable man who has wounds, some of which are still healing. His closest allies are present in his children, manager Debbie Gwyther, and ex-bandmates.

Liam: As It Was is captured through personal and behind the scenes sequences, creating an engaging and immersive adventure. The cinematography is outstanding with such an abstract and vivid palette on offer. The lighting is an element throughout that injects emotional power taking over the screen in a dominating tantalising degree. The framing of the interviews themselves is peculiar but immersive in how they are composed in a split-screen effect. Splitting the image offers a digestible and personalised experience as well as the affordable long take that holds significant weight in the more moving and passionate of stories. The most abstract of all elements concerning the filmmaking is that of the film’s use of montage. Evocative and vibrant with how it is placed within the film, creating a provocative atmosphere of tension. Building with a frantic pace and unleashes itself in a manner that’s visceral and exemplary.

Lightening has dedicated ten years of his life into this passion project. Bubbling away in the background capturing stunning footage and interviews throughout the years. There is an authentic and honest level of trust between Lightening and Gallagher that opens up a raw organic dialect. Lightning touches upon some hard-hitting topics and subjects; when the audience is expecting Liam to deflect, he pauses and delivers an insightful answer to every question. His charisma is here in full effect. It is infectious and razor-sharp. He has a level of tolerance with resulting sympathy and harmony that was hidden, and with it, a more mature understanding of relationships and dynamics has risen and taken shape.

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