Viewing No Distance Left to Run, a document detailing Blur’s rise to fame in the UK and the States, goes more like this: Some really handsome guys wrote songs, got drunk, signed a record deal and wound up being horribly famous.
It’s not the stuff of legends. Nor is the film something that most folks are gonna need to watch. Having said that, it’s still an engaging piece of entertainment.
Watching Blur’s career from the other side of the Atlantic ocean, it’s difficult to accurately gage the impact this group had on its own nation. Surely, any American remembers that “Woo Whoooo” song. It was a hit a decade back. Even before that, though, Blur had toured the world and made a decent sum of cash, basically providing for each of the four members in perpetuity.
What No Distance Left to Run does – since it’s not really engaged in any sort of proper historical excavation – is to track the group dynamic from Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon meeting through the band’s hiatus during the early aughties. Of course, it’s difficult at points to care all that much about relatively young rich dudes drinking a lot in order to make it through press junkets, but there’ve been worse films.
Allowing the documentary to be as successful as it eventually is stems from the vast amount of televised press the band worked up, though. During the nineties there was an explosion of MTV styled nonsense which Blur made use of to spread the good word. One of the more entertaining recordings comes courtesy of Alex James blandly reciting lines for promos, one after another after another.
What would have made the film itself more entertaining would have been setting the band with an historical context. There’s brief mention of Albarn “inventing Brit-Pop,” but then no real follow up apart from some sparse mention of Oasis and the two group’s rivalry. As the film pushes towards its conclusion, to a certain extent following the band’s discography, it would have been useful to juxtapose Blur’s later work with Radiohead.
Second guessing a filmmaker’s an easy thing to do, though. And really, No Distance Left to Run, for fans of the band at least, is going to represent an indispensible bit of insight.