Originally published: The Stool Pigeon
No Distance Left to Run is a full-length feature documentary following Blur on their reunion tour of 2009 after a ten-year hiatus. Something of a celebration and symbolic finale to their cause and affect upon British music culture at the dawn of a rather dull nineties, as it marks out their inception, invention, evolution and demise as one of Britain’s greatest bands.
Directed by Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern, the film is a touching tribute from the start to finish. Exploring the history of how Albarn and Coxon first met at school in Colchester, to their time spent at Goldsmith College where they met James and press-ganged Rowntree (a Colchester council worker at the time) into the forming band that would become Blur and top the charts.
For fans old and new, No Distance flits back and forth in time to chronicle the bands rise and fall from fame in great detail, with each member contributing candid comments to add colour and clarity to the grainy footage that intertwines the film. And as much as it does to compile the band’s history, thoughts and theories for fans to dribble over nostalgically, their resulting reunion – and underlying inspiration for the film – is as a result of them wanting to put a fairytale full stop to their time together as opposed to the tumultuous ending in Britpop’s heyday.
If anything, No Distance Left to Run is one of two things for the band: 1) a well-orchestrated piece of merchandise for the band to lay as a headstone over their career; and 2) plays out as part of the healing process for both band and fans. Compelling and frank interviews with Damon, Graham, Alex and Dave won’t shine any new light on what is already known about one of the country’s most documented bands, but they act as confessional testimonies to the reasons behind their triumphs and tribulations.
At times, the documentary over plays their credentials, most notably when James claims that Britpop was “100% Damon Albarn’s idea.” He continues in saying that Modern Life Is Rubbish was the sole beacon of Englishness in a sea of US-influenced grunge and England’s infatuation with shoegaze at the time, as the film attempts to rewrite history and dispel any knowledge of other such founding fathers such as Suede and The Auteurs, and pub band spin-offs like Oasis and Menswear.
Nor is their any commentary of the fact that Britpop was purely a marketing ploy by the record companies to boost record sales and increase the north-south divide as a result of Blur and Oasis flogging singles on the same day as to battle over pop Britannia, but this is a sentimental portrayal of a band that grabbed the zeitgeist by the tit-load and milked it for all they could. Even when revisiting and revising their overall impact.
But for all the information that is left blinkered (including that of Albarn’s purported drug issues), No Distance Left to Run acts as a ceremonial pastiche of Blur’s inauguration, invasion and fall from fame, all strung together on the back of a reunion that left those at Glastonbury and Hyde Park nostalgically inebriated and lusting for English dream of the disillusioned mid-nineties.