Review of “A-ha: the movie”: the creative purgatory of the trio “Take on Me”

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A tragicomic air clings to the bands that light up the sky like fireworks and fade away. The Norwegian subjects of “a-ha: The Movie” are best known for their 1985 hit “Take on Me,” but, despite successful shows, seem mired in creative purgatory. Thomas Robsahm and Aslaug Holm’s documentary traces the band’s career with the thoughts of its three members – Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, Magne Furuholmen and Ken Dollesque lead singer Morten Harket – and key associates.

Bouncing around London in the early 1980s, the passionate trio of accomplished musicians landed a contract with Warner Brothers. “Take on Me,” with its infectious arpeggios and liberating high notes, made them stars, boosted by a delightful partially animated music video from Steven Barron (who also directed videos for “Billie Jean” and “Money for Nothing “).

So what? The documentary reviews the band’s timeline like a slavish but intermittently lucid Wikipedia entry. We don’t learn how a-ha continued to have the privilege of releasing albums (including the denim and shiny shirt phases of the late 1990s) or what kept thousands of fans coming back for more. . But we are witnessing a hundred muted shades of gloom and apathy: Furuholmen still seems sad that he gave up guitar for keyboards decades ago, while Harket talks about needing his space. Waaktaar-Savoy’s attitude can be summed up by a sticker behind him in a single shot: “No Stupid People”.

There is a slight wonky interest in seeing the grind of recording sessions and fan service. But the film feels promotional enough not to delve into the potential humor of their situation.

haha: the movie
Unclassified. Duration: 1h49. In theaters.

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