First time director Stephen Mitchell brings his decade of friendship on film with the Followill boys in this captivating and intimate documentary. From their poor pentecostal upbringing to the stadium filling outings as the Kings of Leon, Talihina Sky is an uncompromising and universal story of rags to riches. Haphazard, loose and foregoing any traditional structure , the film visually mimics the bands breakthrough musical outing that was ‘light on polish…heavy on passion’.
Centred around the annual family reunion in Talihina, Oklahoma the film exposes a candid look into the culture of the American heartland as well as serving as the catalyst to explore the bands roots. Assembled at the reunion are the colorful and eccentric extended Followill clan who are more than willing narrators to the boys success.
Most intriguing are the conversations with the Followill boy’s parents who shed light on the boys strict Pentecostal upbringing. The boys were home-schooled and moved constantly with their Preacher father. They were poor, God fearing children instilled with the idea that Rock n Roll was the Devils music. Director Stephen Mitchell to his credit delves deep here into the roots of the boys past and their ‘conversion’ cutting brilliantly with footage of church followers in the throes of ecstasy as they convulse and ‘speak in tongues’ and with footage of punk rock performances adding a juicy piece of irony to the proceedings. It’s only when the extended footage of the boys drunken ramblings and studio bickering enter the picture that the film feels it’s losing its impact. In fact it feels more like a work in progress. However, the honesty of both director and subject are faithful and there can be no denying that as a band they are truly magnificent as the final concert performance attests, with extended family members in tow, it becomes a moment pride and genuine affection not to mention a visual feast.
Talihina Sky is in cinemas 24th June 2011.
Director: Stephen C. Mitchell
Stars: Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill
Runtime: 87 min