What else can one say about the Beatles? What has yet to be covered in documentaries like Get Back, Eight Days a Week, or John Lennon: Imagine? Or even explored with films like Yesterday and Across the Universe? Director Jon Lefkovitz seeks to answer these questions by recreating two iconic John Lennon interviews in Rubber Soul. Using the full transcripts from Lennon’s 1970 interview with Rolling Stone and his 1980 interview with Playboy, the movie completely re-enacts Lennon’s thoughts on life, love, and the Beatles. Without any added text or audio, Lefkovitz seeks to unpack Lennon through the icon’s own words.
From start to finish, this semi-documentary consists of Jann S. Wenner of Rolling Stone (Andrew Perez) or David Sheff of Playboy (Dillion Porter) interviewing John Lennon (Joseph Bearor) and Yoko Ono (Denice Lee) across a table. Dialogue is pulled directly from Lennon, and Bearor notably captures his cadence when speaking, so much so that if you close your eyes, you could mistake him for the late Beatle. The director cuts the interviews together to display Lennon’s evolving, flowing, and sometimes contradicting views on stardom, rock n’ roll, life, love, and Beatlemania.
“…Lennon’s 1970 interview with Rolling Stone and his 1980 interview with Playboy…”
Hearing Lennon’s words played back-to-back five years disconnected offers a fascinating juxtaposition between Lennon at the start of his solo career and near the end of his life. However, the documentary has many moments that feel like a transcript reading because the film is a word-for-word transcript of those classic interviews. Bearor does a lot with little freedom, and Lee works well to capture Yoko despite very few lines (in the interview and thus the movie). A few cuts to some animation and Beatles interviews offer some breaks from watching the reconstructed segments, but there needed to be more of these breaks to elaborate on Lennon’s ideas or break up the halting pace.
Giving a visual guide to two major interviews in Lennon’s life offers interesting perspectives and insights Beatles fans could appreciate. However, Rubber Soul may struggle to find an audience outside of Beatles fans. But considering the film is proudly made for Beatles fans, this is far from a bad thing. Ultimately, the movie is almost 90 minutes of interview reenactment. Even the most die-hard Beatles and Lennon fans may want to read the interviews or listen to them on one of the many websites dedicated to the Fab Four instead of watching a recreation. Lefkovitz packages Lennon’s ideas into strong themes and cuts the interviews together in an interesting format. As such, this is an impressive feat, but it is difficult to dive into the narrative without the breathing room of a biopic or the hindsight of a true documentary.
"…proudly made for Beatles fans..."