Director: Christian Larson
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 7/10
There’s no doubt that it has to be a great feeling to go out on top and on your own terms. The old adage of “all good things must inevitably end” often holds true when something good is going. Like death and taxes another certainty has to be bands/groups will break up. Unless you’re the Rolling Stones who just can’t seem to stop rolling. What exactly leads a successful group to break up? Why would a group get out before it even seems like they’ve reached the pinnacle of their success? Who started the downward spiral? Christian Larson’s energetic, informative, electronica-infused documentary provides answers to those questions as it follows the hugely successful band Swedish House Mafia as they embark on their 50 stop final world tour.
Unless you’re a fan of the band or the genre you will likely not know who this band is. Perhaps you don’t even know what electronica is. Overall you really don’t need to be a fan or even music literate to enjoy this film. Larson doesn’t take long to get the viewer acclimated to the music and the band itself. When you see footage from the band’s numerous sold out concerts you get an idea of the music and the fans. Swedish House Mafia puts on one helluva cool stage show and their fans are absolutely euphoric for their melodies.
After providing a teaser of SHM’s music, we are introduced to the trio of Axel “Axwell” Hedfors, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello. We see that they are great friends, family men, loving fathers and they happen to make up one of the most successful bands in the world. We quickly get to learn about each member’s little idiosyncrasies and they become quite the endearing trio. We hear about how they met, how they found their sound and the many challenges they face. Initially the band is very coy about discussing the details as to why they are going their separate ways but as the tour progresses we continue to learn more and more about them and Larson leaves little nuggets of insight into what was bringing the band to an end. When the ultimately reasons are presented it is surprisingly neither sad nor bitter. The documentary is never eulogizing the group but serves as a celebration of their music.
The music is the star of the show. The film is filled with fantastic concert footage that I wish it were shot in 3D. The stage shows are very elaborate and as cool as they look on film one can only imagine what it was like to be there live. The footage will likely leave you wanting to see more. It is interesting to see how the band is received in different cultures but in the end they are all the same. They’re a mass of humanity moving along to the beats they are spinning. Not to be outdone, the behind the scenes footage is just as enticing. One part in particular where Larson goes back in time and takes a look at the creation of the band’s biggest hit “Don’t Worry Child.” It’s a fascinating look into their creative process and the struggle to keep things fresh and moving.
For someone late to the scene this documentary will make you kick yourself for not catching on sooner. For fans of the band this will likely give you the answers to the many questions raised about the break up but will also serve as a celebration of their music. As concert documentaries go it doesn’t break any molds, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it is quite engaging and there’s never a dull moment. It may acquire the band new fans that can look back on what Swedish House Mafia was while looking ahead to what’s in store from their solo careers and certainly a hope that they will reunite in the future.