Is there a point were you outgrow boy bands? This is just one of several questions posed by director Jessica Leski in her debut film as she attempt to explore not only the appeal of boy bands but also what sparks such devotion in their fanbases. This she achieves by following four intergenerational women who all consider themselves to be obsessed fans of their chosen boy band.
First up we have Elif who s the youngest of the particpants and an obsessed One Direction fan to the point were she went viral when a video of her breaking down during the announcement of their concert DVD was posted online. Next we have Daria an obsessed Take That fan, we also have Sadia representing the fans of the Backstreet Boys and finally we have Susan who at 64 and still an obsessed Beatles fan even being one of horde of Beatles fans who descended on Southern Cross during their tour of Australia. Each of them bring something different to the table and as their stories unfold especially with what the bands mean to them and the effect they had on their lives.
Starting off with a charming feeling of innocence as each of the women talk about how they discovered their chosen boy band and what it was which sparked their interest which unsurprisingly stems from them finding one of the members cute accompanied by charming animated sequences playing out their fantasies with the members which range from Elif playing tag with Zayn to Sadia being taught how to swim by Nick. How they choose to celebrate their favourite boybands though is were the film really gets interesting especially for the likes of Daria and Sadia whose Xenial fandom antics have a fun nostalgic glow to them with Sadia talking about sending out a Backstreet Boys News letter using the family e-mail or Daria living out in sticks passing time at the weekend obsessionally learning the dance routines off a concert video incase she should ever be called up to stand in for one of the members. Compared to Elif who with the power of the internet can speak to her fellow Directoners all over the world to track their every movement to the point were they refer to them as “Their Boys”
At the other end of the spectrum Susan and her Beatles obsession provides another interesting angle to the film, especially when looking through her memorabilia collection and seeing how much of it is replicated over the years with band being swapped out for the latest chart topper. However while the boybands might be changed out over the decades Leski skips over the controversy that the bands suffered or how their break up instead choosing to present them in the same perfect light their fans view them in even though it does feel like a missed opportunity to see how Zayn leaving One Direction effected Elif and how Daria was effect by any of the major scandals which rocked her fanbase from Robbie Williams leaving, their controversial image change or her beloved Gary from Take That being caught up with his fellow members in an off shore banking scandal.
Thanks to choosing such fascinating and knowledgable subjects for her film Leski is able to avoid any use of voice over or cut aways to pop culture experts and psychologists and instead lets the quartet compile their stories in their own word soley even having Daria breakdown the boy band formula from what sort of roles the band members have to play and styling requirements which when laid out on the white board is actually kind of surprising to see how they all fall into the template she has just laid out.
Interestingly the film spends the last half hour of the film five years on from when Leski began following the woman and in doing so find many of them having entered into a phase of transition away from the boy band obsessions with a trip on the Backstreet boys cruise…..yes that is actually a thing and Leski has the footage to prove it! However for Sadia it’s almost a wake up call for their biggest fan as faced with a mirror vision of herself x1000 she realises that there is more for to achieve on her own including learning to swim. Elif also finding herself in a similar situation as with her parents refusing to let her pursue music at college also kills her love for One Direction to be replaced with a love for Jazz. Ultimately the documentary ends in a good place for all four of the participants though the same can’t be said for their fan status but despite this the documentary maintains the sweet tone which carries throughout the film as Leski clearly isn’t trying to judge any of the fans but more understand what drives their obsessions.
One of the great things about documentaries is the ability to take a subject and turn it into the most surprisingly engrossing experience and certainly Leski’s film does exactly that as for those of us who were never part of the boyband hysteria are given an insiders view while providing a sense of nostalgia for the devoted. Regardless of if your a boyband fan or not this is a facinating look at fandom in it’s purest form.
Rating: 4 / 5