The Swell Season ~ (USA, 2011) ~ DVD

This is the documentary followup to Once, the Academy award-winning film that addresses the fact of how the film and the new-found notoriety changed everything. The way the musicians approach their music, their fans, and their relationships. It’s also about a relationship teetering on the brink of breakup. Glen talks about writing songs about breakups early in the film. But it’s Marketa’s song and introduction to a song she wrote that captures the emotion of what they’re going through. It’s a lovely song, and it’s the highlight of the film. Aside from the new age “we’ll meet again in another lifetime sentiment”, she has really thought about this. Bottom line, when two people meet and have an immediate connection, there is a natural pulse to the relationship, a natural progression to where both partners are. Marketa talks frankly about her early ways with Glen, taking his lead in most things. As the relationship[ grew, she began to disagree with him in several ways. People grow at different paces. This can be the source of conflict.

Marketa is particularly troubled and uncomfortable with having to pose for pictures. She’s ok with signing autographs, Glen is back and forth with the whole scene, at one point telling his mother that he didn’t want all this attention. She looks at him skeptically and tells him to at least do it for her. Glen’s father is also shown: an alcoholic who is intentionally drinking himself to death (he died during the filming). He won’t tell anyone why – he says he’ll take it to his grave. One suspects however that it is due to the opportunities lost because of a young, pregnant wife. He was a champion boxer, but left it all behind him to support his family. So Glen, his father, and his mother have complicated reasons for the ways they think about opportunity, fame and celebrity.

Although the audience is left to wonder whether these two will ultimately make it, there is a glimmer of hope in the recognition that they now both need each other for their art. Then I think of Richard and Linda Thompson who I was ironically listening to today. Only time will tell.

The Swell Season

Opened on Broadway on March 18th

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