While watching Conor Masterson's stylish moment-in-time documentary on The Frames, I found myself asking what a documentary is supposed to do? Does it have to appeal to those in the know or does it have to welcome newcomers too? Masterson makes things tough for newbies because if you never fell in love with the band you're left in the cold a little. How many albums the band have released, how they were received, the size of the fanbase and what the music means to the fans all remain a mystery. Missing too is the impact that Hansard's Oscar for Once has had on the band.
So there are some mental gymnastics as to what Masterson is after with In The Deep Shade. In his defence the director sets his stall out from the outset: with its grainy black and white visuals of Dublin, Masterson lets it known that this isn't your regular recap of a career interspersed with talking heads of critical acclaim. Masterson here is after moments of intimacy from Hansard and band members. Yes, there are scenes with Hansard talking to camera, but for the most part the director tries to catch him on the go - from the passenger seat of a moving car - and explore the root of the raw honesty Hansard strives for in his lyrics.
In the more official to-camera scenes we're left in no doubt as to who is the boss: right or wrong (he confesses that he makes mistakes live) he's in charge and the band use war and battle analogies to describe their 'squadron leader.' Thankfully for Masterson, there are no live mistakes at a rousing gig that was part of their 20th anniversary tour which dots the documentary. Despite his jolly interaction with the crowd the frontman can come across as 'difficult'.
Although after something more abstract than your usual music documentary, a newbie like myself would have welcomed info on his relationship with Marketá Irglová, documented in The Swell Season, the impact of friend Mic Christopher's death and an explorination of the future for the band post Hollywood fame.
Fans should love it.