Latest Posts


(For its 31st edition, the SXSW Film & TV Festival will host nine days of screenings from March 8-16, 2024. Check out Melanie Addington’s This Is a Film About the Black Keys movie review. Seen it? Join the conversation with HtN on our Letterboxd Page.)

A tightly edited rock doc about a band that came from Akron Ohio with a little bit of love and boost from Oxford, Mississippi – This Is a Film About the Black Keys, rocked SXSW with a focus on the trajectory of a fledgling band of two guys in Ohio to moderate success to becoming legends and the devastation that the creative industry wreaks on your personal life.

Early fans of the band may know most of their story but if you discovered them after a couple of their albums like many did, then following along from their demo record to their Fat Possum Record deal and meeting R.L. Burnside and T-Model Ford in Mississippi to get Muscle Shoals back up and running for a record is some great footage that may be new for fans. 

The film explores the 24-year bond between Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, the two band members, who grew up in the same neighborhood but didn’t know each other until both were flailing and unfocused in college. Realizing they had the same love of music, Patrick agreed to record Dan’s band. After the band was a no-show, the two decided to give it a go on recording together. Quite by the best of happy accidents, what came out was special. Director Jeff Dupre navigates their personal stories set against the backdrop of their career in a deft look at their discography. 

As two flawed white men who can’t communicate openly their feelings, their mental health breakdowns over band stress, marriages falling apart, and more come through in their music and Dupre used this as the thread weaving together their story. 

Perhaps nothing is too revelatory in the documentary, but for a band that came up at the same time as me, and I watched in their early formative years play, influenced by their local tie to Oxford, where I was residing, it feels somehow reassuring that despite struggles to get where they are and to achieve success, their losses are not insurmountable, painful perhaps, but all part of the human experience. Maybe a salve for those of us lost in this post-pandemic world that just going through it is the way. Once you get past the angst and grief of change and no longer being part of youth culture, you can embrace who you are in this moment, sift through the pain, and keep what remains important.

While the two men spend little time reflecting on their personal choices, others in their orbit reminisce, often unable to pierce the veil of what goes on in their brains, while the art stands for much of it, an emotional crutch of pouring what you can’t get out into your lyrics. Perhaps the documentarian seeks some sort of understanding of what the magic sauce is to make fame when really, it is just what is put forth, two guys who worked hard, couldn’t find a life-work balance and in the end, chose to lean into the work and hope for better luck with second chances in their personal lives.

The film doesn’t try to be anything it isn’t – it just delivers the right notes at the right times with a mix of studio, sit-downs, b-roll, reenactment for visual metaphors, and concert footage over the years, and some nice still photos along the way. Spanning September 2001 until now, the arc of these two men’s lives is intricate. As Pat put it – it was like an arranged marriage at the start, having peaks and valleys and taking breaks, but over 20 years in, they found their stride and moved to become more like swingers, open to experimentation with other musicians and not afraid to move beyond just the two of them. Like any relationship, you either choose to grow together or let the drift take you away. It is all about just a decision of choices.

– Melanie Addington (@MelAddington)

2024 SXSW Film Festival; This Is a Film About the Black Keys; Jeff Dupre

Liked it? Take a second to support Hammer to Nail on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Melanie Addington is the Executive Director of Tallgrass Film Association as of 2021. She has worked in the film festival world since 2006, first as a volunteer, and then eventually becoming the Oxford Film Festival Executive Director in August 2015. She used to be a reporter for the Oxford Eagle (a community newspaper) and then Pizza Magazine Quarterly (a global trade magazine). She still loves pizza. And she still writes for Hammer to Nail and Film Festival Today about her other great love: movies. She is from Southern California originally but lived in the South for 20 years. She now resides in Wichita, KS, and has one son.

Post a Comment

Website branding logosWebsite branding logos