Film-Forward Review: [BE HERE TO LOVE ME]


Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Townes Van Zandt
Photo: Jeanene Van Zandt

Directed by: Margaret Brown.
Produced by: Margaret Brown & Sam Brumbaugh.
Director of Photography: Lee Daniel.
Edited by: Don Howard, Karen Skloss & Michael Taylor.
Music by: Townes Van Zandt.
Released by: Palm.
Country of Origin: USA. 99 min. Not Rated.

Despite never reaching the fame of some of his peers, Townes Van Zandt was, and still is, a highly influential presence in the music world, probably most famous for having other people cover his songs. A "songwriter's songwriter," is how Kris Kristofferson describes him. (Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard had a number one country hit with "Pancho and Lefty").

First-time director Margaret Brown has the challenge of not only telling Van Zandt's often funny and tragic life, but acquainting him with the audience in the first place. Brown overcomes her subject's comparative obscurity by taking the show-not-tell approach, filling Be Here to Love Me with performance footage, ranging from television appearances to Van Zandt simply strumming his guitar in home movies. A particularly poignant moment shows Van Zandt playing "Waitin' 'Round to Die," as an older man looks on with tears in his eyes. In effect, Brown allows Van Zandt to introduce himself. However, this can become a little tedious as performance scenes drag on with seemingly no end in sight.

In his interviews, Van Zandt show off his abundant charm. Even when speaking about rather dire subjects, such as his reoccurring substance abuse problem, Van Zandt is never short on appeal. When asked in an interview why everybody drank so much, Van Zandt dryly replies, "Thirsty." And Brown especially succeeds in directing interviews that feel more like dialogues between fans and friends; musician Guy Clark's first appearance in the film shows him taking a shot of tequila, toasting to Van Zandt's memory. Molly Eichel
December 2, 2005



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