Heavy Load (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner08/10/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Enjoyable, thought provoking, frequently funny and ultimately moving documentary with a strong message at its centre.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jerry Rothwell, Heavy Load is a documentary about Lewes-based band Heavy Load, three of whom (drummer Michael White, singer Simon Barker and rhythm guitarist Jimmy Nichols) have learning disabilities. Given to playing thrash punk covers of pop songs plus one or two of their own numbers, the band seem to have discovered the secret to happiness.

However, the presence of Jerry and his cameras changes the dynamic of the band and they become more ambitious, deciding that they want to move away from playing disability club nights and break into the pub circuit. Their first pub gig is a roaring success and leads to the recording of their first album, but growing tensions within the band threaten to derail their success.

The Good
Filmed over a period of two years, Heavy Load takes you on a real emotional journey as you experience both the highs (the first pub gig, founding the Stay Up Late campaign) and the lows (band disagreements, lead guitarist Mick deciding to move to France) of life in the band. Crucially, this is not about disability per se, although the film does rather foreground chattiest member Michael (who has Down Syndrome) at the expense of everyone else.

Rothwell's constant presence means that he's on hand for some terrific scenes – the band winning over the initially bemused crowd at their first pub gig is a joy to behold. The film is also extremely funny at times, such as when the band draft a letter to Kylie, asking for her permission to record their version of Can't Get You Out of My Head.

The Bad
The only real problem with the film is that presumed licensing issues mean that we don't get to see enough of the band performing, though what we do see shows flashes of genius (their tribute to Frank Butcher, for example).

Worth seeing?
This is a thoroughly enjoyable documentary that deserves to be seen. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Heavy Load (12A)
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Content updated: 23/07/2018 16:26

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