Published Oct 27, 2011Sigur Rós's music is often described as "cinematic"; It's ironic, then, that every time they make a film, the Icelandic post-rockers refuse to marry their grandiose music with epic imagery.
Heima (their 2006 love-letter to their home country) juxtaposed colourful HD footage of Iceland's lush, pastoral scenery with understated, intimate performances. Inni swings the other way. Filmed in grainy black and white digital video, this live film captures the band at their most stripped down and visceral.
Filmed over two nights at the Alexandra Palace in London, UK in November 2008, Montreal director Vincent Morisset (Arcade Fire's Mirror Noir) eschews wide, open shots of the band for tight close-ups of each member from a army of small cameras mounted on the group's equipment and around the stage.
Whereas Heima presented almost two-dozen tracks, or at least snippets thereof, Inni gives the audience just nine selections, but lets them experience each song in full. The songs could best be described as the band's "hits," representing their most well known songs amongst fans.
Live, Sigur Rós music takes on some extra heft, but they deviate much from the structures of their studio versions. Therefore, watching 75 minutes of grainy footage with little payoff might be trying for some. Still, it's nice to see the normally quiet and stoic group interacting with one another, particularly lead singer Jón Þór Birgisson and Kjartan "Kjarri" Sveinsson playfully nudging one another on a shared piano bench during "inní mér syngur vitleysingur."
Between songs, Morisset has interspersed short archival clips of the band dating back to the late '90s. The interviews are often funny, particularly when the band describe their music as "very serious heavy metal" to a Japanese interviewer, and they do shed some light on the act's origins. But their lack of context and inconsistent placement in the film tend to disrupt the flow.
Inni is a curious work, lacking any surprises for serious fans yet offering a few olive branches to new ones. Still, it's a visually striking document of a band it's clear few still truly understand. (XL)