Hot Docs 2014: Come Worry With Us! – Documentary Review
Director: Helene Klodawsky Country: Canada Runtime: 81 min Rating: PG
My favourite type of documentary is the kind that integrates a viewer right into the lives of other people. Through such works, audience members are allowed a peek into a world often entirely foreign to them as they learn how others live. The Canadian made documentary Come Worry With Us!, directed by Helene Klodawsky, promises to reveal to viewers the lives of two musicians as they attempt to complete a successful concert tour along with their young son. Although the musicians themselves are thought provoking and their story worthy of investment, the film itself chooses to tell its facts as opposed to show them, and unfortunately fails to generate the suspense necessary to allow for real emotional connection or interest.
Come Worry With Us! follows talented artists Jessica Moss and Efrim Menuck, members of the alternative rock band Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, as they travel on the road. Jessica plays the violin and Efrim sings and plays the guitar, but their roles differ in their lives outside the band, as well. Jessica also struggles with her role as mother to the couple’s young son, Ezra, while Efrim wishes that he could be more involved. The band must go on tour in order to stay financially alive, so Jessica and Efrim make the decision to bring Ezra along for the ride. This film documents their hardships and successes, as they attempt to do what they love while properly caring for their energetic and impressionable young son.
Jessica and Efrim are likeable and ordinary – albeit very talented – individuals who are trying to make the best out of a tricky situation. In one scene, Efrim explains that his band refuses to raise ticket prices to their concerts, even though it would help them make ends meet, because that would be unfair to the fans that simply want to enjoy their music. Such ideas are commendable, as is the unglamorous portrait of professional musicians that the film depicts. The music itself created by Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra is different and alternative, yet it is clear that true artistry is at work even to those who may not find this style to be their particular cup of tea. This documentary is about highly artistic people, which makes the fact that the film itself is not particularly creative all the more troublesome.
This film tells its story through a combination of home video footage and that which was captured by a film crew whilst on tour. A measure of intimacy is created through this technique, as the audience feels as though they are privy to personal moments and stories. Unfortunately, however, director Klodawsky chooses to tell the audience a lot about her subjects through captioned information that appears on the screen, as opposed to actually showing it to us through the individuals. The film does nothing especially artistic visually, and is not aesthetically pleasing, which seems odd due to its subject matter. The biggest flaw here, however, is the overall lack of suspense or climax. It would have been very easy to become emotionally invested in the story of Jessica, Efrim, and Ezra, as they are hardworking and likeable everypeople and easy to root for. Their story does not go anywhere, however, and is not presented in a manner that causes the audience to react emotionally, which is a true shame due to the potential present.
Come Worry With Us! is a documentary that should be commended for its honest portrayal of the unspectacular life of professional musicians. These people face the same struggles that many in the audience share, and are therefore highly relatable individuals with much potential for emotional connection. It is therefore unfortunate that the film itself relies so heavily on words as opposed to actions to tell its story. The film lacks a story arch, failing to produce the necessary suspense and investment. The subjects may generate interest on their own, but this film lacks this particular – and crucial – element.