Sundance Film Festival

IT MIGHT BE LOUD: No "Might" About It

This afternoon’s screening of IT MIGHT GET LOUD embodied just about everything I love and hate about going to the movies.

For starters, the Library Center Theater was arctic cold before the screening began—not because the heat was off, but because the air conditioning was on full blast. No, I’m not joking. I asked a volunteer, who explained that the theater gets Vietnam hot (okay, she didn’t say “Vietnam”) because it has no air circulation.

“Trust me,” she said, “you’ll be taking your coat off in no time. Last night, I was dying.”

Secondly, the theater has only lightly graded seating, thereby ensuring—unless you’re over six feet tall—that you’ll spend the movie looking at the back of someone’s head. I’d rather sit in the front row and crane my neck upwards. Which is exactly what I did.

And lastly, gum smackers were seated both beside and behind me: men who chomped open-mouthed at thick wads of, I believe, strawberry and grape gum. (Let me state here, in case I never again have the opportunity, that no respectable adult chews gum unless: s/he is quitting smoking; or needs to quickly expel bad breath. Every other instance is, in my opinion, socially unacceptable.)

Thank god, then, that IT MIGHT BE LOUD lived up to its title, drowning out the less refined elements around me. (Yes, I’m being facetious now.) As festival director Geoffrey Gilmore introduced the film, a documentary about three famous guitarists coming together for a jam session, the crowd became increasingly pumped.

“It’s got The Edge,” he said. (Applause.) “And Jimmy Page.” (Applause.) “And Jack White.” (Roaring applause; White was in attendance.) And then on to the opening scene, in which White fashions a guitar out of a coke bottle, a wire, and two pieces of wood. After nailing a pickup to the board and connecting it to an amp, he runs a slide across the wire, producing one hell of a riff. The audience went nuts, like I’ve never heard before. “This,” I thought, “is why people go to movie theaters.”

Director Davis Guggenheim’s previous film, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, had premiered in the very same room three years earlier. IT MIGHT GET LOUD posed similar narrative challenges and, in lesser hands, would have collapsed under the weight of the film’s conceit and ended up like an episode of VH1 Legends. Instead, it’s a surprisingly engrossing look at two legendary guitarists and a third one who hopes to be legendary someday. (In case you’re wondering, this praise come from someone who isn’t even much of a Zeppelin, U2 or White Stripes fan.)

There’s no “might” about IT MIGHT BE LOUD. It is loud. Sitting in the front row left my ears ringing. More than anything, though, the film is a love story that sent shivers up my spine several times—when a lick from The Edge filled the theater, for instance, or when their favorite guitars were filmed as if the instruments were naked women.

Come to think of it, there’s no skin at all in this rock film. That I only now just realized that, two hours after the film ended, is a testament to Guggenheim’s skill.