One fan's thoughts on first seeing Stewart's movie
"I blame the man holding his camera for all of my problems."It's the final scene of "Everyone Stares" that kept running through my mind after seeing the film for the first time. This is not so much because of Sting's parting words quoted above (as amusing as they are), but more the image itself, and how much more it seems to be telling us than what directly meets the eye. We see Andy and Sting, though Stewart's "eyes" via the camera lens, as they are all handcuffed to the railing of a precarious-looking staircase perched high above a city. The reasons for this unusual predicament are never quite explained, but it seems to make a telling statement about the band itself at that particular moment of time: cramped and trapped together at the top, and dangerously close to falling over the edge.
To those critics who have claimed that this film has no depth to it? I say that clearly, you simply weren't paying enough attention.
This film is not a strictly linear, fact-laden and/or impartial documentary. Neither is it the expose of "sex, drugs and rock and roll" (emphasis on sex and drugs) that some curiosity-seekers seemed determined it should have been and were disappointed that it wasn't. Instead, it is a fractured, personal collection of video "snapshots", capturing the small moments of life on the road as well as the absurdities and monotonies of becoming a rock star. For the well-versed Police fans, it is also a chance to experience the thrill of seeing events, concerts, and even photo-sessions from a perspective we've never seen before. It begins with a clever montage sequence of animated photographs as Stewart sets the scene with his narration, covering the early days of the band until he purchases his Super 8 camera, and suddenly the action really takes off, in more ways than one.
There is an interesting, dreamlike quality to the entire movie, which seems to come from the Super 8 footage itself: it is somewhat grainy, rendering every scene in a softer focus than we are used to on a big screen. As cars, boats, people, clouds and cities zoom by in time-lapse footage, and as stage lights blur past the camera when Stewart rushes on stage or struggles to get through crowds of fans, this sense of "unreality" slowly builds and at times it becomes almost dizzying. (It is also hard to believe that the Derangements were not written specifically for the soundtrack of this film, as they provide the perfect mixed-up/familiar-yet-different mood for everything we see, and the lyrics sometimes provide interesting and clever accents to the particular moments being shown.)
As for individual scenes themselves, I actually don't want to talk too much about my favorites, because a great deal of the enjoyment of them comes from being surprised by what you get to see, as well as the amusing little "subtitles" or comments Stewart adds to them. I think the first-time viewer is better off getting to experience that surprise for him or herself. Suffice to say the audience--particularly the avid Police fan--is likely to be incredibly amused and delighted at many moments, and wrapped up in the story overall as we get to experience it as if we were a member of the band ourselves.
While all seems to be fun and games at first, the cracks within the band slowly begin to start surfacing as the film progresses. It's presented with subtlety, not with in-your-face fights and screaming contests. It comes through more in small comments in Stewart's narration, as that "unreality" builds and we start to get the underlying sense that all is not as well as it might seem. The piles of money may be growing, but weariness and unease is settling in. The hotel rooms may be growing bigger, but they seem to have become more like prison cells than the familiar, cozy havens on the road they were years before. Indeed, it seems as though the band members have all become literally and figuratively handcuffed to that ivory tower, and as Stewart says near the end, it's time to break free from it all and really "learn what this life is all about."
In its own unique, quirky way, I'd say that "Everyone Stares" is just as revealing an autobiography as Sting's "Broken Music" was a few years ago. It's a piece of the Police story we've been missing, and as a fan, I have to say it makes me feel now that the story is complete in a way I didn't feel it was at all, three years ago after the Hall of Fame ceremony. I think once you get to see the movie for yourself, you'll understand what I'm talking about. And really, I can't wait until everyone else out there there gets their chance to "stare," and experience the film for themselves.