First and foremost, I
want to say that this review is going to read an awfully lot
like a music review, because "I Am Trying to Break Your
Heart" is, essentially, a documentary about music.
So, I am going to analyze some songs and even talk about the
album involved, but keep in mind this review IS about the film
The alternative/country band Wilco has been around a while and
they have distinguished themselves (along with Old 97's and
Whiskeytown) as one of the premiere alt-country bands around.
However, their latest album--"Yankee Hotel
Foxtrot"--was almost never released, and "I Am Trying
to Break Your Heart" (named after the first song on the CD)
is a documentary about the recording of that compact disc, which
went on to become the most critically acclaimed CD of 2002 and a
flawless rock and roll album.
Director Sam Jones originally intended this documentary to focus
solely on the creative process of the band as they recorded and
finished the CD. However, he lucked up in a big way.
When the record was near completion, Wilco played it for
executives as Reprise Records, only to have them laugh in their
faces and vow to never release the CD. Then, a heated war
arose between the band and the record label, eventually leading
the band to break their contract and split with the label.
They went on to find another label, release the CD, and revel in
the critical praise that followed.
This film is a brilliant collaboration of documentary and music.
As we watch Wilco finish the record, wrap the record, and push
the record, we are treated to the hauntingly beautiful music of
Wilco. I already owned this CD before I saw this film,
which was even more special because I could sing along with many
of the songs. Songs like "Jesus, Etc." and
"Kamera" and catchy and upbeat, while songs like
"I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" and "I'm the
Man Who Loves You" are flawless pop songs, timeless and
What makes this film interesting, allowing it to maintain our
attention, is the feud that develops between Wilco and Reprise.
They completely shoot down the record, only to have it blow up
in their faces later. This is truly an underdog story with
one hell of a happy ending.
Now, I doubt you will find this film playing anywhere as of
right now. It is currently in only about ten cities,
Chicago being the city where it was born, considering the band
is from Chicago. So, you will probably have to wait a
while. I have my fingers crossed that the Academy might
give this flick some recognition in the Best Documentary
department, but that is a long shot. Alas, this is the
best documentary I have seen this year and a wonderful testament
to the talent of Wilco.