When indie filmmaker brothers Jay and Mark Duplass were going to film school in Austin, Texas in the early ’90s, they became fans of an offbeat musician named Kevin Gant. Gant wrote quirky tunes about the metaphysical world, sang them with a rich R&B soul and played a flamenco style guitar. The result was an interesting and cool combination of artistry that not only impressed the Brothers Duplass but also the huge music community of Austin. In 1995 Gant took his talents to L.A. where he hoped to make it big and, from there, he dropped off the face of the earth. Jay Duplass decides to seek out Gant to find out what happened and the result is an entertaining and insightful 50-minute documentary called, simply, “Kevin.”
While many docs dealing with off-beat musicians usually take viewers on a trip that tends to involve mental instability or heavy drug use (or both), Gant’s story is quite different. The guy has his act together but some events conspired that simply put out the creative light that had once shone so brightly within him. Still happy and heavily spiritual, Gant is living his life, he just doesn’t make music any longer. Like any good fan who wants to see an artist doing well, Duplass not-so-subtly uses his camera and newfound success to lend a hand to Gant in ways that are, well, super cool and I never saw them coming. Yes, what transpires kind of breaks the code of the documentarian (a point Duplass acknowledges) but I say “screw it.” Artists should be able to help artists if they can and I give kudos to Jay Duplass for being proactive in that sense.
Gant is a highly likable guy and a fine musician with a fairly unique style to his music. While I can’t say I was blown away by what he does, Gant certainly has talent. But like any artist, he struggles with life and finding his muse and these are the points in the film that were very relatable and interesting. We want to see Gant rise again and begin pursuing the dream he once held so close to his heart so there’s definitely a sense of tension involved. In the end, “Kevin” is a fun little jaunt into the soul of an artist who may, or may not, have the will to keep on creating.