Last month I was lucky enough to have been asked to write an independent review for the film ‘Woodstock Or Bust’, you can check out my review here. This month, I’ve been asked to review the documentary I Used To Be Normal which I actually really enjoyed and would totally recommend.
The documentary from director Jessica Leski, filmed over four years and spanning three generations, offers an honest, non-judgmental yet surprisingly insightful look at the pop culture phenomenon of boyband super fans. What is particularly appealing about this documentary is that the boybands themselves sort of take a back seat, instead we see the lives of four self-proclaimed fangirls and the way that their lives have been shaped by their respective musical heroes.
The film focuses on Elif, Sadia, Dara and Susan along with their respective boybands; One Direction, Backstreet Boys, Take That and The Beatles. The feel of the documentary itself is fairly simple and easy to follow, set against a backdrop of some pretty good tunes and interspersed with some simple animated features that fit perfectly with the overall tone.
What I found particularly enjoyable about this documentary was just how relatable it was. I’ll admit that, very early on, I was a little judgemental, especially when they showed a YouTube clip of Elif in hysterical tears after watching a 1D clip. However the more we talk to the girls, the more I realised I was not so different from them when I was younger.
I, myself, was a big fan of Take That although this was predominantly influenced by my mum, and while I was in no way as big a fan of them as Dara is, I do have a long-held grudge against Robbie Williams, purely because I blame him for causing the band to split in 1996.
My own personal fan girl episode was for the group, Blazin’ Squad, and whilst I am vaguely embarrassed by this now, when I was a teenager, I was proud of my fan girl status. I can’t believe I’m telling you guys this but, I was a member of their short-lived fan club, saw them live five (!) times and bought multiple copies of their singles and albums just so I could get the different posters. Although I quite quickly grew out of my fangirl episode, the more I watched of the documentary, the more I could understand how and why these boybands could have such a massive impact on the lives of these women.
The thing that sets this documentary apart is that, without you even realising it’s happening, as a viewer, you become emotionally invested in the lives of these four women. You share in their successes, empathise with their pasts and become hopeful for their futures.
Overall, this was a surprisingly engaging and cleverly constructed documentary that offers some pure unadulterated nostalgia for the ages, regardless of your personal taste in music. Without a doubt I would recommend this for a night in, on the sofa. Popcorn and an open mind are recommended but not essential.
I Used To Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story is distributed by TriCoast Entertainment and will be released on digital platforms (Amazon, iTunes, DirecTV, AT&T, FlixFing, InDemand, Vudu, FANDANGO, Sling/Dish) on Sept. 17th.