EIFF 2016: Gary Numan: Android In La La Land (2016)


Cats urinating on curtains, a discussion about what makes a “good” serial killer, talk about make up that just becomes criticism of an aged face, these things and more make up parts of a typical day in the life of Gary Webb, best known to the world as Gary Numan, an enduring musician who broke through in the late ’70s and early ’80s with hits “Are Friends Electric?” and “Cars”. As he states in this documentary, he was far from the first to create the kind of music that made his name, but he made it feel that way, if only for a short time.

Directed by Steve Read and Rob Alexander, this documentary takes the lead up to a new album, “Splinter”, as it’s starting point. It’s a big deal, mainly because Numan had put his career on a self-imposed hiatus for many years. And viewers find out how he got to that place as we hop around in time, covering the highs and lows that have made up the life of this ever-so-‘umble rock star.

Numan discusses his early days, discusses his Aspergers and social anxiety, and discusses family, in the form of his parents, his three daughters, and the woman who has arguably done more than anyone else to help himself feel more comfortable in his own skin, his wife Gemma. While it doesn’t go into unnecessary gory details about any problems that have occurred throughout their marriage, both parties have moments of startling honesty. They’ve battled together through emotional pain, financial stress, and an extended period of time during which anything created by Numan was immediately pounced upon and criticised with excessively zealous vitriol.

David Bowie may have been the man who fell to Earth, both on screen and off, but Numan always felt as if he was the man who synthesised himself into creation from a mix of sound systems and coding. This documentary reminds you of that image, and shows just why he came across that way for so many years.

It won’t be too surprising to those who know anything of the man, but it’s a sweet look behind the scenes, showing his creative process, his home life, and comes complete with a narrative (the pressure of the new album and what it’s reception could mean) that will have many rooting for someone who comes across as a genuinely good guy. Buoyed by the company of a genuinely good woman.

Funny, sometimes enough to make you laugh out loud, charming, and frank. It doesn’t bring much new to the table, but it will probably make you want to go out and buy some Numan albums. Which is just fine with me.

Gary Numan: Android In La La Land is showing at 2050 on 19th June in Odeon 2, and 2050 on 21st June in Cineworld.


Film Rating: ★★★½☆

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