During all this, and the band’s future successes, Justin would take drugs, or become hard to deal with due to his mental health. This would lead to friction with other members, managers, and family but in a way that feels more relatable and understandable than just too much booze and cocaine from X rockers. Get Back Up keeps the focus on Justin, where his head was at during certain times and how exactly his drug use became more than even the singer realized at the time.
The director allows the audience to empathize with, then get angry at, Justin. Mind you, he is not painting Justin as some villain who swallows drugs because he can’t deal with anyone else. Niven gets underneath to explore what makes him tick, so the audience can understand Justin’s decisions, even if they don’t agree with them. He does this by interviewing just about every major person in Justin’s life (excluding his children for obvious reasons). While this does set up a traditional talking heads style, there is more going on than just that.
“These interjections prove the perfect visual representation…to put the viewers in the headspace of Justin…”
Of course, there is concert footage from various stages of their career. Some of it is more professionally shot, and some it seems to be filmed by fans from the audience. No matter what, these scenes capture the energy and raw emotionality the band brings to all of their performances. Niven also uses the medium of choice – film – to good effect. Every once in a while, when Justin is talking about his journey, there will be an edit to a lit cigarette burning out, a bird flapping its wings, waves crashing on the beach, among other symbolic visuals. These interjections prove the perfect visual representation, sometimes a little more literal, others metaphorical, to put the viewers in the headspace of Justin at any given moment throughout Get Back Up.
If you are not a fan of Blue October’s style of music, then Get Back Up will not sway you, nor does it try to. Even for non-fans, the story of mental health, coping through drug use, and nearly losing it all is compellingly told through excellent directing, intense editing, and very open and honest interviews. Fans of the band will adore this, and I suspect those who are not will as well.
"…fans of the band will adore this, and I suspect those who are not will as well."