Film Review: ‘Shut Up And Play The Hits’

In a darkened screening at the Soho Hotel, a few people gather to watch the video eulogy of the legendary, now defunct LCD Soundsystem. James Murphy is as fine a […]

In a darkened screening at the Soho Hotel, a few people gather to watch the video eulogy of the legendary, now defunct LCD Soundsystem.

James Murphy is as fine a star of his own documentary as he is a frontman – renowned for his energetic shows and constant all white suits, he comments during the film “I’m making an attempt to dress better in my retirement” while chasing around after his much too adorable French Bulldog on the streets of Williamsburg and his apartment to discussing life after LCD Soundsystem with author and critic Chuck Klosterman.

The documentary provides a glimpse into the final weeks of LCD Soundsystem, giving a personal portrayal of Murphy as he approaches the final moments of one of the most celebrated dance/rock bands of the last decade.

The film moves from the final performance at Madison Square Garden to cuts of Murphy sitting at home the day after, spending minutes shaving his neck while wearing his tuxedo, walking his dog and pacing the backstage area before the show. If it were anything else, this would all sound…almost mundane, but the atmosphere, emotions and the tragic yet austere way in which Murphy finally breaks down over the site of the band’s equipment in a lock-up – it all points to a certain kind of clarity and complexity which few artists can ever uncover in themselves or their work, it’s an end at the height of LCD Soundsystem’s fame, but it’s one that Murphy seems to need.

The live scenes are of course brilliant – all the hits, naturally, put in an appearance while Murphy, Whang and Win Butler of Arcade Fire go crazy on-stage, then it cuts back to Chuck Klosterman, “When you start a band, do you imagine how it will end?” and the scenes start to show a mature Murphy, the cameras catching each pause that Murphy makes before answering, assuring himself and us that he is happy to have ended it all on his own terms.

These snippets give an invaluable insight into the reason for the end, while providing a narrative for the film’s story – for the point of the party, but it’s when the film cuts back to those dizzying on-stage moments that you truly come to realise what this means for the fans and for Murphy, it’s the intense live shows, thrilling on-stage collaborations and the chanting of the crowd through such songs as the telling ‘I’m Losing My Edge’ that each and every fan will mourn the loss of for a very long time.

For more information visit the official ‘Shut Up And Play The Hits’ website.

Nick Struggles

About Nick Struggles

Writer.