Tuesday, 24 July 2018

I Used to be normal - A Boyband Fangirl Story: NZIFF Film Review

I Used to be Normal - A Boyband Fangirl Story: NZIFF Film Review

The pantheon of boybands is never ending.

Screaming girls, packed together in throngs, crying and loudly adoring their wannabes.

They're an easy target for mocking, for those outside of the current obsessions of the popworld.

And yet, director Jessica Leski's affectionate doco, which began life on Kickstarter, seems to douse its subjects in a universal appeal that it makes their obsessions seem normal.

Centring on four different fans - 16 year-old Elif, who's a One Directioner, Dara, 33, who's a proclaimed Take That fan, 25 year old Sadia, a US Backstreet Boys fan and 64-year-old Susan who was there at the start of the trend with her Beatles love - Leski's piece becomes more of a rounded piece as it goes on.

It begins with the obvious, with all of the quartet explaining their loves for their musical heartthrobs, but yet as it continues, I Used to be normal - A Boyband Fangirl Story actually shows the dichotomy of society and what these women face thanks to their obsession.
I Used to be Normal - A Boyband Fangirl Story: NZIFF Film Review

For Sadia, it's moments of self-examination after going on a Backstreet Boys' cruise; for Dara, it's self-reflection on who she is, why she still needs boybands; for Elif, it's a sign of her growing and tragic divide with her life choices and her family and for Susan, it's a reminder of good times had and friends lost.

It's a clever touch deployed by Leski, who could so easily have over-indulged in the cheesiness proffered by such subjects of adoration. However, even though Sadia's practically drooling at Backstreet's video Quit Playing Games with My Heart, what you begin to see is her coming-of-age via her idols in a Muslim world that's strict.

And the conflict Elif faces with her family is heartbreaking as the chasm opens.

Leski's strength lies in never mocking her subjects, and never mocking the crucial growing up experience that is fan adoration.

As a result, the success of the pace, coupled with the nicely put together archive footage and open moments of their subjects means I Used to be normal - A Boyband Fangirl Story proffers an inclusive exploration of Boybands, their eternal appeal and their fans' formative experiences.

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