Judge David Johnson doesn't trust anyone to kill him. Except his best friend who once saved his life and, interestingly enough, is a big fan of irony.
The following takes place…ah, screw it, that's been played.
TV superstar Kiefer Sutherland (24) heads to Europe for a four-city tour promoting the rock band Rocco DeLuca and The Burden. Along the way he learns some valuable lessons about himself.
Facts of the Case
Kiefer Sutherland's record label, Ironworks, discovered struggling musician Rocco Deluca and his angst-riddled rock and roll band, The Burden. Sutherland was so moved by DeLuca's music he and his production partner, Jude Cole, got the group into the studio to work on their first album. Following its completion, Sutherland led the band across Europe in an effort to "find an audience" and gain exposure for the burgeoning musicians.
Along the way, Sutherland granted full access to filmmaker Manu Boyer, who documented the behind-the-scenes drama and challenges built into a grassroots music tour. Also in the camera's gaze is Sutherland, providing insights into both Kiefer the actor and Kiefer the person.
Normally, I wouldn't be drawn to a "rockumentary" unless it contained a Stonehenge music sequence. But as a fan of 24 and its star, Kiefer Sutherland, this film grabbed my attention for his real life role as the band's tour manager. The lesson here is that expanding your horizons leads to unforeseen treats, and one of those treats is I Trust You to Kill Me, an honest, probing, and entertaining documentary of the first order. While there is a glaring lack of Stonehenge stage pieces, you do get to watch Kiefer drunkenly throw himself into a Christmas tree. That there is an even trade-off.
After sifting through the footage and stringing it all together, what director Manu Boyer has crafted is a two-pronged documentary. One part is dedicated to the band, Rocco DeLuca and The Burden, and their experience on the road: drawing crowds, playing music, and all the mayhem found within. Part two is The Kiefer Sutherland Show, in which interviews with Kiefer are blended with raw footage of the man behind the CTU Kevlar. Both elements are fascinating in their own right and combine to produce an engaging—if somewhat disjointed—documentary experience.
Maybe disjointed isn't the right word; that evokes a sense of substandard craftsmanship. What I Trust You to Kill Me gives you is two subjects held together by one event: the rock tour. Yes, the film jumps between Sutherland and the band, and at times DeLuca seems to be getting the short end of the stick. Yet the confluence worked. I got the impression that Boyer was originally focused on a straightforward rockumentary, but stumbled onto some truly engrossing stuff with Sutherland and couldn't help but weave it into the film. I have no proof for that assertion; I'm just leaning on my finely honed sense of…where was I?
Right, Kiefer Sutherland. The guy is really, really interesting (at least from what I saw here), a down-to-earth hombre who seems reluctant to embrace his celebrity. Freed from entanglement with the paparazzi, we see the guy unwind as the legendary partier he's reputed to be. He goofs around with the band, drains shots at all the local bars, dances, sings, and yes, tackles a Christmas tree. His nocturnal displays are plenty fun, but the meat of the documentary can be found in his idle comments about his family, his personal life, his career, and his worldview. These conversations occur in disparate situations, such as walking the street to secure an audience for a free concert, or over the hum of a tattoo needle as he has "I Trust You to Kill Me" in Icelandic etched into his forearm.
On the music side of things, DeLuca is an intriguing chap himself, a true artist who dumps his soul into this music. He's certainly not a prima donna, and if there is a criticism that can be leveled at the film it's that nothing really dramatic happens. DeLuca is an introverted soul-searcher, definitely not psychotic, and his professionalism doesn't translate into many WTF moments. The band's struggles with a non-responsive audience and a questionable venue supply the film's only conflicts; but not every documentary has to make Drudge Report headlines. Best of all, the guy is actually supremely talented and his music is quite good.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen looks fine, especially when Boyer shifts from the video stock to the black and white stills. The 5.1 Dolby Digital does a great job fleshing out the music. Extras: a 10-minute preamble to the tour in Japan gives further insight to Sutherland's star/regular Joe dual persona, and three music videos from Rocco DeLuca and The Burden.
The music's good, the characters are interesting, and Kiefer Sutherland provides as transparent a peek into the life of a celebrity as I've ever seen. Recommended.
Rock on. Rock on. Yeah yeah yeah.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
• "How it Started" Japan Tour
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