Western Stars (2019) Review


A slightly different way to produce a live concert film with some different scenes in between the songs and some stories behind the songs on Bruce Springsteen’s latest album Western Stars.


The Boss didn’t have any plans to tour his Western Stars album so decided on something a little bit different instead to be filmed playing the full album and release it as a documentary style film in cinemas. It was his 19th studio album and took him from 2012 to write and trim down from over 40 songs to how the album stands today. He turned 70 not too long ago so it all seems to fit perfectly into place for this film to be released.

Filmed in his Barn a very different type of venue but with the orchestra it sounds fantastic and looks good. The scenes in between often just long shots of scenery or if in doubt Springsteen driving. I wasn’t fully sure what to expect with this film but this certainly wasn’t it.

It was a paid event at the cinema which means even with an Unlimited card £5.40 had to be paid to attend. More than a standard cinema ticket for others and to be brutally honest for a running time of 1 hour and 20 minutes it just didn’t feel fully worth it. I am truly surprised to be even saying that as I am a huge Springsteen fan but this just didn’t feel anywhere near as good as it could have been. Along with the film, there was a question and answer afterwards led by Edith Bowman, where she didn’t really seem to have a plan for the questions and was all over the place.

The film had a few home videos from thirty years ago with Bruce and his wife Patti, when they first got married. Some moments seemed to be used just because they hadn’t been seen before rather than fully fitting them with the story or the song that was coming up next. A couple of moments did fit ok, but I really just felt that this was forced to tick another box. Recently he’s done a “play” on Broadway, which let’s face it was a super expensive ticket to a show rather than an actual play. (Although the Broadway recording by Netflix was a very good watch). Then now this, I feel as though the Springsteen and I documentary had a lot more passion and heart than Western Stars managed.

All in all a very disappointing cinematic experience that could have easily just been kept for Netflix/straight to streaming and I might have felt like it was slightly better than the reality of watching this on the big screen. Nothing outside and I personally feel as though from Springsteen you expect so much more than this, nothing spectacular and only took a few months to edit together which is evident in the end product.

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