I’m not going to lie; I went into “Gogol Bordello Non Stop” with a pre-existing respect and love for the band’s music. I can’t remember exactly where or when I first heard it (perhaps after seeing interviews with band leader Eugene Hütz in the documentary “Kill Your Idols”), but I know that once I did, I was hooked. This is both a good thing and a bad thing for Margarita Jimeno’s documentary.
On the good side, “Gogol Bordello” showcases the gypsy-punk band at their craziest, covering the 5 year ascent of a band from a hodge-podge of Hütz-picked musicians playing weekly parties in New York City to rock festival mainstays, touring the world. Not only do you get to see how much fun everyone seems to be having all the time, you also get insight into how Hütz came to be the madman he is today, and how each band member found their way into the band and, once in, how they helped shape the overall evolution of the sound (which is helpful because, if you’ve ever seen a Gogol show, there are often moments of “who the f**k is he or she?” and “what’s going on here?” and… that’s okay).
On the bad side, if you enter the film with knowledge of the band’s music, their style and even enough background info then this documentary is little more than a snapshot of a bunch of people having fun on and off-stage. Sure, an occasional political ideology is expressed, but then it’s back to the fun and, while I think those new to Gogol Bordello will find the band a musical revelation (if not revolution), I don’t know what it has to offer those looking for even more insight into the band. Then again, what more does one expect? I guess even I have been having trouble managing exactly what my expectations for the film were.
At best, “Gogol Bordello Non Stop” is a portrait of an evolving band, enjoying what they do and inviting you to enjoy along with them. At worst, nothing much happens but you get to hang out with the band, and that’s not bad. If you’ve never heard of the band, this film is worth it for the possibility of broadening your musical horizons and tastes. If you already love the band, it’s like hanging out with friends. Either way, it’s worth seeing “Gogol Bordello Non Stop.”