Review: Oasis: Supersonic

oasisChronicling the meteoric rise of a U.K. band from the Manchester commission zone that went from bedroom blasters to rock n’ roll stadium giants in 3 years. Oasis: Supersonic is a raucous, anecdotal documentary as told by the band members. Raw, honest, loaded with new footage, Mat Whitecross’ film works as a salute to their first two albums but never goes beyond them which leaves the film feeling incomplete.

There’s little doubt that the tumultuous machinations of brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher during their their time together in one of the U.K.’s biggest musical exports is the stuff of documentary gold. Given unrestricted access to the archives of Oasis, director Mat Whitecross (Road to Guantanamo, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll) enlists the brothers, band mates Mark Coyle, Gary Crowley, Paul Arthurs, Paul McGuigan, Tony McCarroll, and others to narrate the formative years of the band to their record breaking gig at Knebworth in August of 1996.

At 5 years Liam’s senior, Noel dominates most of the narration here and, being he essentially is the creative engine behind most all of Oasis’ songs, it’s fascinating to listen to how candid he is about himself and his band mates. Fame certainly hasn’t taken the Manchester out of the man and it is refreshing to listen how he (and everyone else) is so frank about their experiences. The drinking, the drugs, the hotel room shenanigans, the recording process, sibling rivalry, fighting, growing up in Manchester, exchanging band mates – it all comes at you with a rollicking frankness that exhibits all the passion, ego and fire that made Oasis such a formidable musical presence in the mid-to-late 90s.

Assembly wise, the film is a catalogue of video footage, clips and animations with the band members’ (whom I presume were all interviewed separately) commentary overlaid. Traversing the writing process of break out hit Definitely, Maybe and the global phenomenon (What’s The Story?) Morning Glory against the meteoric rise in the live performance scene, Whitecross follows a very safe course of linear storytelling.

What is missing, though, is any real exploration into the band’s personal lives. Nothing is said of any relationships or any external factors impacting the band bar the Gallagher’s parents, there’s no mention of the record label or anything to do with the real media circus that swirled around them.

Also, the film stops at the Knebworth gig and doesn’t venture beyond so albums like Be Here Now and Heathen Chemistry don’t get a mention. Nor does any of the more recent years of Noel’s solo work and, to this end, the film doesn’t feel finished. Oasis: Supersonic is more of a glory days write up than a full width and breadth forensic assessment of the iconic band.

Oasis: Supersonic is a rollicking good time, full of candid anecdotes and rare (yet authorised by the band) insights into the machinations of the musical institution. It does feel incomplete as the story stops part way through the journey and I can’t help but think that there were many elements omitted from the film to keep it just on the right side of favourable for the subjects. What does shine through, though, is the almost timeless array of songs that the band produced and, no matter how much controversy may have surrounded them, the music has stood the test of time.