if you’ve seen one troubled artist documentary then you’ve seen them all. this one is a lot like the devil and daniel johnston, even the setting (austin, texas) is the same.
they start with a brief view of the artist’s genius (perhaps some footage of them when they were sane and insanely good, or their music will play while snapshots from their childhood are shown on the screen). then you’ll hear from other artists who you likely respect (or at least have heard of) about how brilliant this artist was and they’ll talk about how when this person was at their apex they were the most influential or ingenious or groundbreaking talent around; this person defined a genre or did things no one else could ever dream of doing, etc. then they the director tells you (through a collage of interviews, clippings, music, etc.) about the artist’s unfortunate downward spiral which always includes: family, drug, financial, and legal issues. inevitably it’s either pointed out, or it becomes obvious, that the person had little control over their situation – drug abuse was a disease, family members kept them down in some way – and that their genius came at great personal cost. they would have been even better if not for…fill in the blank. most of these films will then end with a semi-uplifting recap of the last couple years – the person is doing better, playing shows, starting a family, they’re as popular as ever, whatever.
frankly, the success of these films, for me, is about two things: how far from this formula they stray and how much i like the subject’s music/art.