As Damien Dempsey prepares for his annual end-of-year concerts at Vicar Street, the lives of three audience members - Jonathan, Packy, and Nadia - are examined by how they're hurt, how they're healing, and what they're doing to heal.
Compared with other concert movies, 'Love Yourself Today' separates itself from any kind of ego or self-aggrandising. There's no lazing around the green room, kicking back with booze and waxing lyrical, and when Damien Dempsey's own life is brought into the movements, it's done in such a way that he is merely one character in the tapestry of the story.
Really, 'Love Yourself Today' offers up an examination of life across three unique souls, and how each of them have broken, and how each of them have reassembled themselves. It's messy, it doesn't always keep together, but it's real and it's authentic in a way that is both affecting and undeniably beautiful. Intertwined with each of the individual stories, director Ross Killeen brings in a song from Damien Dempsey's concerts and we grasp just how restorative music and the community of live performance can be. Though it was filmed in the before times, 'Love Yourself Today' speaks to our current plight and the desperate need we all have for people to be among people, laughing, singing, dancing, crying, all as one and in one.
Even if you're unaware of Damien Dempsey's music, 'Love Yourself Today' offers up an examination of lives lived truthfully and authentically, and connects this with Damien Dempsey's on-stage presence. The audience lifts itself up by the music he plays, and in the chorus and the chants, it brings forth a kind of spiritual healing that's akin to gospel revival shows in the US. The ashy black-and-white footage just adds to this atmosphere, and the way in which Killeen's holds focus and cuts from audience to stage proves that he understands how deeply it all reaches people.
The impact it leaves is one that reminds us that healing can take many forms. It can be swimming alone in the sea, it can be in the arms and company of those who know your struggles, it can battering away at a punching bag, or it can be roaring your lungs out in a sweaty concert hall. 'Love Yourself Today' makes no distinction between these endeavours, and weaves them together as one hope.