Best Documentary

Love Yourself Today – Film Review

Love Yourself Today – Film Review

Director – Ross Killeen
Writers – Ross Killeen, Ross McDonnell

Music documentaries normally fall into a number of different types. One is a live performance, a recording of the singer or band doing what they do best.  The other is an insight into the life of the artist, talking about their background through interviews with friends and family. This is not your typical music documentary! While Damo (Damien Dempsey) is nominally the star of the show, this is not his film. Instead, it focuses on three other people; Jonathan, Nadia and Packy. They are not famous and do not have anything in common, other than their love of Dempsey’s music. This film tells their story and also shows the unique bond between the performer and his audience.

This film focuses on Damien Dempsey’s long-standing tradition of playing Vicar Street each Christmas. The gig is more than your average night out. It’s a cathartic experience for those that attend. It feels like a semi-religious event for those at the venue, they sing along to his every word and leave the theatre changed. At the gig in question, we see Jonathan, Nadia and Packy in the audience. We then meet each of these individuals in their daily lives. They have all suffered through their lives. They are the victims of many of the social problems that affect modern-day Ireland, such as crime, physical abuse, drug addiction, mental health issues and more.

This is director Ross Killeen’s debut film and it is a most unusual creation. It is shot in black and white, and the cinematography is quite beautiful at times, with long lingering shots of housing estates, woodlands and the sea. It delves deep into modern Ireland and shows those that have been left behind by the various booms and busts. The other part focuses on the gig and the healing power of live music. While a love of Damien Dempsey’s music would certainly help you to enjoy this film, it is not essential. It is a film about more than just an artist or his music, it’s about life and how we live it.

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