Recently, there’s been an upturn of rock’n’roll infused into dramatic entertainment. Green Room, Bomb City and Danger Diva kept music at the core of their stories, while TV shows like Californication and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll threw the rock star life into our faces. Hell, we’ve all wanted to stand on a stage and have people love our songs at one point in our lives. Some of us have actually done it. Writer/director Alex Keledjian taps into this with his debut at the helm.
“Arquette particularly shines as a downtrodden aging rockstar willing to do anything it takes to get back in the limelight…”
Aging rocker Jimmy (David Arquette) morbidly celebrates another birthday thrown by his daughter when a random party crasher with a guitar piques his interest. Scott (Ryan Donowho), the guitar slinger, followed a girl there and, when he starts playing, that girl Rachel (Allie Gonino) joins in. Jimmy grasps an opportunity to revive his career and forms a band. He reaches out to industry frenemy Rick (Luke Wilson) for label support, but the first tour doesn’t go so well until a freak accident electrifies their career.
Sounds silly? It is, and a lot of fun, too. It’s the perfect blend of camp and straight, something you don’t see too often. Arquette particularly shines as a downtrodden aging rockstar willing to do anything it takes to get back in the limelight. His enthusiasm encourages costars Gonino and Donowho, making for a volatile triad. That said, there are serious moments, but the film doesn’t demand to be taken too seriously. It’s all in fun and the performances read as such.
The music…well…it’s that Stones-y drivel that seems to pervade almost every modern rock & roll movie or TV show. While not offensive, it’s not that great either, but it doesn’t ruin the experience. You know that current band pushed by the corporate classic rock station? Here you go.
“We all know music biopics are a bit corny and High Voltage plays on that…”
As a first-time director, Keledjian knows what he’s doing. His shots range from artistic reflections in kitchen devices to raw social media. An interesting blend of dramatic scenes and supposed archival footage makes for a quasi-documentarian approach along the lines of Behind the Music or, more to the point, Paranormal Witness. A music video interlude proves his eye exceeds most others. The sci-fi/horror element just makes us smile.
We all know music biopics are a bit corny and High Voltage plays on that. We love to see our heroes rise and fall, sometimes to even rise again. Rock’n’roll was never meant to be sanitary, it’s the danger that excites us. Alex Keledjian gets that, and has fun with it. We will, too.
High Voltage (2018) Directed by Alex Keledjian. Written by Alex Keledjian. Starring David Arquette, Luke Wilson, Allie Gonino, Ryan Donowho, Perrey Reeves, Erik Stocklin, Elizabeth Rice and Bekka Walker.
9 out of 10 stars