Josh Whiteman’s documentary on the Dutch photographer, music-video director and filmmaker Anton Corbijn doubles as a relatively straightforward biography and a series of dispatches from the set of 2008’s Control, Corbijn’s first feature film. Though its primary material is interview footage with the man himself, there are a number of other celebrity personages, some as interesting as they are unexpected—such as REM’s Michael Stipe, the SF writer William Gibson, the actress Samantha Morton, and the director Wim Wenders—others as bland as they are seemingly integral, such as Coldplay’s Chris Martin and The Killers’ Brandon Flowers, the rock critic Paul Morely, and, of course, Bono.
The last of these manages to so fully inject his ‘personal brand’ into the film’s slender 75 minutes that his banal, aphoristic commentary, which appears at carefully judged intervals, sounds much more like an attempt at overbearing, pre-written narration than passing thoughts. The film is at its most engaging when it examines the notion of what one interviewee terms “the celebrity thought-form” and when it begins to make an enquiries into the notion of Celebrity (with a capital C). Shadow play displays the human side of a remarkably private individual whose work traded almost exclusively on the outward appearance of the almost famous.
Shadow play is out now on DVD through Madman.
The film’s theatrical trailer is the only special feature.