I must admit up front that I am not a big fan of The Frames and find the Bono-esque posturings of lead singer Glen Hansard irksome in the extreme. I was not, then, especially well disposed towards the notion of being trapped in a darkened room with Hansard and friends for the guts of 90 minutes.
However, while I would not go so far as to say that I was pleasantly surprised by Conor Masterson's glowing tribute to them, I did find The Frames: In the Deep Shade a surprisingly painless experience.
Filmed in black and white around a 20th anniversary gig at Dublin's Olympia Theatre, Masterson's film follows Hansard and some of the other band members as they prepare for the concert and reminisce on their long careers together. Hansard could, and does, talk for Ireland; sometimes he makes sense, other times he doesn't, but there's no questioning his genuine passion for music.
And as Masterson's film demonstrates, The Frames are a pretty good live band. I actually liked some of their songs – there, I've said it – and Hansard is a lot wittier in his interactions with the crowd than one might expect.
All in all The Frames: In the Deep Shade is well made and nice to look at, but it's very much a film for the initiated, because you'll find out nothing about the band's history, how many albums they've made or how they've managed to stay together when so many of their contemporaries have fallen by the wayside.