Streaming Review

The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart review – insightful doc will be heaven for superfans

Though a pacier runtime might have helped, this exhaustive, bittersweet rundown of the group's career offers compelling access

If there’s one thing you can't fault The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart for, it's skimping on the details. This is an exhaustive look at the iconic band’s transition from Beatles-esque ‘60s pop to legends of disco, taking in accounts from the Bee Gees themselves as well as their various collaborators and the acts they’ve since inspired. It's a history of the group that skilfully balances fun and melancholy, but probably runs too long for anyone other than superfans.

Bookended by deeply moving remembrances from Barry Gibb, the only surviving member of the band, Frank Marshall's documentary charts the rise, fall, and meteoric re-rise of the brothers Gibb as they changed pop music forever by bringing disco to a massive mainstream audience.

The behind the scenes footage is compelling and, of course, the soundtrack is unimprovable, running the gamut from “Massachusetts” to “Stayin’ Alive” to their writing for other acts like “Islands in the Stream.” The series of talking heads discussing the band are less interesting, all feeling a bit BBC 4, but there is an insightful take on the anti-Bee Gees “Disco Sucks” backlash, a movement ostensibly about music but really underpinned by homophobia and racism.

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart devotes a little too much time to these talking heads, and the film as a whole could have used an injection of pace – you really feel the minutes ticking by in the last 20 minutes. That might prove off-putting to non-fans, but for devotees, the deep dives and passionate research on display here make for essential viewing.

The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart is now available to stream on digital platforms.

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