Brit-Rock super band Oasis was a global sensation, although some might say they were more of an acquired taste here in the US. Sure, everyone knows their iconic anthem hits Don’t Look Back in Anger, Champagne Supernova and the now infamously clichéd acoustic guitar progression of Wonderwall. But unless you’re a super fan like myself, most Americans probably don’t know the cultural impact and the meteoric rise of possibly the last true rock band to take the stage before the digital age of music.
That’s where director Mat Whitecross (The Road to Guantanamo) and movie studio A24 come in with the excellent new documentary Oasis: Supersonic. The film chronicles the rise (and some of the fall) of the rowdy rock band led by the Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel – whom also executive produced the film.
Fresh off his Oscar win for Amy, director Asif Kapadia executive produces the film that again tackles personalities from the music industry, but this time with more whimsy, due to the subject matter of Oasis: Supersonic being more playful than tragic, although there are some emotional moments. Longtime fans will get plenty of fascinating behind the scenes looks at the recording of the band’s landmark albums Definitely Maybe and What’s the Story, Morning Glory?, while casual or non-fans will get to see a true-blue rock’n’roll story, from their meager beginnings to record-shattering, hotel room smashing, globe-trotting shenanigans.
Whitecross rather ingeniously ditches the “talking heads” style of many documentaries and never once shows either of the modern-day Liam or Noel talking about their past. Instead, Whitecross employs voiceover style narration, sometimes with subtitles due to the boys’ heavy accents, as well as incredibly fun animated sequences and montages of raw footage to pad out elements of their career.
Everything leads up to the epic concert experience from Knebworth in 1996, which saw 250,000-plus come out to take part in the pinnacle of the band’s popularity, and the lone moment where they could truly say they were the biggest band in the world. Whitecross can’t take credit for the shots at this particular performance, but thankfully the event was well documented by many filmmakers and it’s truly a sight to see.
The biggest drawback to Oasis: Supersonic is also its most impressive asset – the involvement of the Gallagher brothers. The brothers have long since split up and went their separate ways, but the documentary only focuses on the very early rise of their career, only portraying portions of the legendary sibling squabbles that eventually led to their ultimate demise as a band.
The documentary also clocks in at just over two hours which seemed a bit excessive for the story Whitecross was telling, unless you’re a lifelong devoted fan like myself. Rather than take the more accurate, less storybook ending look at their career and the over-a-decades worth of albums that followed What’s the Story, Morning Glory, the documentary ends on a “raise your first” type feel-good moment, whether accurate or not, and it makes for one hell of a good rock’n’roll story.
While the film may pull some punches, it's still a smashing good, real life rock'n'roll story that's just as funny as it is deftly directed by Mat Whitecross with fantastic raw footage of the band and animated sequences replacing the normal "talking heads" interview scenarios of most documentaries.