There’s one honest and poignant moment in 20 Feet From Stardom when one of the singers comments that you can go on a TV talent show and gain instant success but without the struggle you can’t be an artist. This lovely moment of clarity regarding the music industry is the exception rather than the rule for this Oscar winning documentary. 20 Feet actually goes for mainstream appeal, layering lots of very similar stories of an understated, yet often glamorous lifestyle as a backing singer upon plenty of gorgeous vocals. Alongside other recent ‘Best Documentary’ Oscar winners such as Man On Wire and Searching For Sugarman, 20 Feet From Stardom pales in comparison, passing the time soulfully without getting inside the soul. It’s a little repetitive and not hugely enlightening, often resembling a television montage rather than something with a clear purpose. It is frothy and fun and pleasant and the sort of documentary which you can’t begrudge mainstream appeal even if it’s not terribly incisive.
20 Feet From Stardom is out on 28th March in the UK. Running time 91 mins. Certificate 12A (UK).
MFR Rating: 3/5