Published Apr 28, 2014According to the band members themselves and townsfolk of the city from which they hail, there is nothing particularly remarkable about Sheffield, UK Britpop act Pulp. After all, they are just common people.
Filmed entirely in the band's hometown on the night of a one-off reunion show in 2012, Pulp: A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets profiles a band looking back on their past from what could possibly be the final show of their career.
Split between candid asides with the group's core members from the mid-'90s, as well as a hodgepodge of characters from Sheffield and its surrounding area, Life, Death and Supermarkets sets itself apart from other band bios and rock documentaries by stripping away the romanticism and symbolic weight associated with the band, and instead uses its time to try and discover what's so special about Britpop's sophisticated elder statesmen.
Whether it's pre-pubescent teens, newspaper salesmen, aging nannies or local fishmongers, the people of Sheffield treat Jarvis cocker and co. with a stoic indifference, perfectly capturing the national pride and skeptical treatment generally inflicted upon British celebrities. In fact, it's really only the outsiders looking in — a university grad writing about the band's cultural significance, a single mother from Georgia who dreams of seeing the band in their hometown — that give a sense of the group's importance in the annals of pop history.
Music from Pulp's performance relies heavily on the band's 1998 classic This is Hardcore as opposed to their 1996 breakout, Different Class (although "Common People" is sung, performed and played numerous times throughout the film, just in case you forgot the hit for which they became known). Elsewhere, footage from their most memorable mid-'90s BBC spots are added to give context to the band's history.
While not a straightforward retrospective (most of the '80s are left out of the film, save for a few random concert shots), Life, Death and Supermarkets captures a career-defining moment in the twilight years of one of Britain's biggest bands. Most importantly, by documenting the group's own unremarkable sense of self and slow-burning ascension to fame, director Florian Habicht makes it seem like it's not a stretch to imagine yourself (or your band) on the same stage one day.