The Quiet One, directed by Robert Murray, is a new music documentary providing an unprecedented look into the music and careers of the Rolling Stones, one of the biggest rock bands of all time. Told through the eyes of the Stones’ bassist Bill Wyman, the film is a personal exploration of what it means to be a rock star.
One of the most intriguing and alluring things about this movie is the unparalleled access this film had to the Stones’ story. Not only did Wyman speak with the filmmakers, he also let them use his personal archive of home videos, photographs, and memorabilia. Unfortunately, this may have been a double-edged sword, as the movie doesn’t go into the depths that it really should.
The film really doesn’t give much insight into the Rolling Stones, which is a shame given the amount of materials Murray had to utilize. Instead, we get a relatively generic and underwhelming rock documentary. If you are a diehard fan of the Stones, then you may enjoy what this movie has to offer, but even casual Rolling Stones fans will be disappointed.
Perhaps most disappointing is that the film doesn’t even take advantage of the excellent music of the Rolling Stones to make the documentary more interesting. If the documentary isn’t going to be that insightful, the least that could have been done would have been to include some awesome new concert footage, but even that is missing.
The one thing that the movie does quite well is making the audience respect Wyman as a musician and artist. The eponymous “quiet one”, Wyman is really the only member of the band into whose life we get a substantial glimpse. The most interesting parts of the film are not when he’s talking about the stuff we already know, like the Stones’ rise to success, they are when we hear him talking about his personal experiences.
For example, the most powerful and interesting moment in the movie is when Wyman is talking about meeting his idol, Ray Charles. In this interview, we get our greatest glimpse into Wyman’s personality and are told an anecdote with legitimate emotional weight. Had the film offered more of this and less of what seems to be pandering to the fans, the movie would have been far better.
On a technical level, the film is definitely very good, but solid cinematography and editing don’t make up for bad directorial decisions and an inability to present a new or fresh perspective. There can only be so many documentaries about one subject before they have to start bringing something new to the table, and this movie falls victim to that.
The Quiet One isn’t a bad film — it just isn’t fresh or unique, failing to justify its own existence. There sadly isn’t much reason to check this documentary out unless if you are a diehard fan of the Stones wanting to go on a nostalgia trip.
The Quiet One is now in theaters and on VOD.