I went into RUBBER SOUL not knowing much more about it than what was written in the Official SXSW Film summary- it's a reenactment of two iconic interviews given by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1970 and 1980 to Rolling Stone and Playboy, respectively. As a run-of-the-mill Beatle fan, the concept is pretty interesting to me. It's always excited to seek out yet another perspective of someone you greatly admire, much less such an iconic person who is deceased. Though the concept got me in the theater seat, unfortunately the film is ultimately just not that entertaining.
The 1970 interview shows John and Yoko in their 70's glory in the full denim-on-denim and round tinted glasses regalia. John is obviously still coming down from the high of being one of the seminal pop culture icons on earth, freshly defensive of his and Yoko's presently-blossoming relationship. Intercut with this is the more sedate 1980 Playboy sit-down in which John has obviously found his zen along with the inevitable perspective of age and more life experience. It is very fascinating that while the 1975 John speaks more aggressively and egotistically, the 1980 version is decidedly and naturally more introspective and altruistic. Though Yoko is sitting next to her man throughout both interviews, she has little to say and only interjects once or twice in either interview.
The film is broken up into sections that provide somewhat of a blueprint for an alleged narrative, but sadly the format just makes for more of a rambling monologue - which is what it really is, I guess. Director Jon Lefkovitz manages to pull similar themes from both interviews that provide great insight into the inevitable progression Lennon made in a decade's time, but I guess I just wish there was more to it. Perhaps some more archival footage or some revelation not yet brought to our attention would have made the film gel more for me. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Either way, I was definitely checking my watch about 30 minutes in. I know it is a rule not to judge a film on what it isn't, but RUBBER SOUL simply left a lot to be desired.
On a bright note. Joseph Bearor's performance as Lennon is pretty amazing. He does a terrific job of showing the icon's transition from a cocky and resistant pop star to a content and world-wise family man. Apparently, the script was taken pretty much verbatim from portions of the interviews and Bearor's natural delivery is just spot on throughout, never betraying Lennon by devolving into a rote "lad from Liverpool" impression with which we are all too familiar.
Overall, I am sad to report that while it is somewhat interesting, the final product is just not that entertaining. I can forgive the terrible wigs in the 70's interviews, but I just feel that given the raw material available, RUBBER SOUL simply didn't meet its full potential.
For hardcore Beatles fans, obviously this film will be on the obligatory to-watch list, but for the casual fan and average movie goer, I'm afraid RUBBER SOUL just isn't all that.
Until next time,
Aka "Annette Kellerman"