It’s vanilla times five in One Di­rec­tion: This Is Us, writes Sara Ste­wart

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

THERE’S a mo­ment in One Di­rec­tion: This Is Us when we glimpse a band mem­ber – Liam? Louis? – back­stage in his un­der­wear, try­ing on pants.

‘‘Hey! Keep the lens up here!’’ he yells at the cam­era.

He’s kid­ding, but this does seem to be a pri­mary direc­tive in Mor­gan Spur­lock’s ‘‘in­ti­mate al­lac­cess look’’ at the Bri­tish boy band: Sex must not be al­luded to, even a lit­tle bit.

One thing’s for sure: ‘Down’ is not the di­rec­tion ref­er­enced in the band’s name. Th­ese boys are up! They are cheer­ful and pleas­ant! They are ever more suc­cess­ful!

It’s a win­ning, if not novel, for­mula. The sin­gles – Live While We’re Young, Best Song Ever – are in­fec­tious; the band is a global phe­nom­e­non. Every­where they go, they’re greeted by un­ruly mobs of scream­ing, sob­bing girls.

Hence the film’s shrug of a ti­tle. No ‘1D’ fan needs con­vinc­ing about the in­fal­li­bil­ity of her idol – and his four, more mor­tal band­mates – and no­body else will go to see it any­way.

For the unini­ti­ated: The band com­prises five lads who all failed to win UK tal­ent show The X Fac­tor, but did man­age to catch Si­mon Cow­ell’s eye. He cor­ralled them, Avengers- style, to form a group with the su­per­pow­ers of ter­rific hair and close-enough-to-per­fect pitch.

Shot dur­ing their 2012-13 world tour, This Is Us cap­tures the band on­stage, oc­ca­sion­ally jus­ti­fy­ing the 3D ticket-price markup with an­i­mated freeze­frames or vis­i­ble song lyrics. In sur­round­ing footage, we see them just be­ing them, which is as in­ter­est­ing as a long trip with any group of 19-yearold boys – mi­nus curs­ing or talk of girls, booze or mis­deeds. This ba­si­cally leaves us with ‘‘Who farted in the bus’’ ban­ter and clown­ing for the cam­era.

The big­gest dis­ap­point­ment is un­of­fi­cial front­man Harry Styles, who re­sem­bles a young Mick Jag­ger. Like Mick, Harry is said to have a way with the ladies (in­clud­ing Tay­lor Swift). Not that you’d hear a whis­per about it here.

No per­sonal rev­e­la­tions sur­face in This Is Us. No nar­ra­tive, no con­flict – no dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween band mem­bers, be­sides the des­ig­na­tion of dark­eyed Zayn as ‘‘the mys­te­ri­ous one’’ (he paints).

It’s hard not to laugh at the clip of a Bri­tish TV host call­ing them as ‘‘slightly an­ar­chic’’ – un­less Harry be­ing wheeled around in a bin by band­mates is a veiled comment on the Bri­tish class sys­tem.

Also ab­sent is di­rec­tor Spur­lock’s quirky per­son­al­ity, ex­cept for one short se­quence in which a nerdy sci­en­tist ex­plains how dopamine works in the brain – i.e. what makes the tween girls shriek.

In­ter­views with the boys’ proud mums are a nice touch, as is the scene in which Zayn buys a house for his fam­ily. And, of course, the au­di­ences get their due. ‘‘We have the best fans in the world!’’ says Niall (at least, I’m pretty sure it was Niall).

And he’s right. The power of so­cial me­dia made this group what it is and they seem ap­pro­pri­ately thank­ful. They’re such nice boys! Still, just once it would have been good to see th­ese pop­sters – as their own song ad­vo­cates – go crazy crazy crazy till they saw the sun.

One Di­rec­tion: This Is Us opens to­day.

Boy band One Di­rec­tion re­veal next to noth­ing in This Is Us.

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