When I’m in a romantic mood, I turn to look at my partner and I say to him, “Darling. You are perfectly adequate. You neither impress nor disappoint.” What does that have to do with this film review? Honestly, that sweet nothing sums up everything I feel about “The Icarus Line Must Die”.
“The Icarus Line Must Die” tracks Joe Cardamone, the frontman of The Icarus Line, as he navigates the rises and pitfalls of surviving in the music industry. The drama unfolds in the gritty setting of the music scene in Los Angeles.
Michael Grodner sits behind the wheel as director and co-writer with fellow writer and star of the film, Joe Cardomone. The film features other musicians such as Keith Morris (Black Flag/Circle Jerks), Melissa Brooks (The Aquadolls), and Jerry Stahl (Permanent Midnight). The film is almost entirely populated by musicians and not actors, which did give me something to moan about while also being one of my favorite elements of the movie.
“The Icarus Line Must Dies”, truly, does not impress or disappoint. I found myself very hot and cold on it, throughout my screening. Sometimes I was really digging it. Other times I was frustrated, or even bored. That being said, I really struggled to give this a definitive thumbs up or thumbs down. Here’s the breakdown:
The film is very interesting to look at. Presenting it in black and white was a stylish choice made even more beautiful by the very stark shifts between light and dark settings throughout the film. I have a soft spot for the City of Angels (one of the many places I have called home) and so my icy critic heart thaws ever so slightly for films that pay their homage to the city. “The Icarus Line Must Die” poked me in that tender place with well-composed shots that really show the city, not just as a cool place to shoot but almost as if it were a character.
As I mentioned, previously, the use of musicians to populate this film was a choice that both frustrated and thrilled me. “The Icarus Line Must Die” sort of felt like a meandering stroll. You’re not really going anywhere, there’s no real planned route, you’re just kind of taking in the world around you. That’s the type of film we were dealing with, so what the musicians lacked in polish and performance they made up for with authenticity and a grounded presence.
As much as I loved the use of musicians, this film was dialogue heavy that it really needed the talents of some good actors. It was hard to pay attention to story and drama when you felt like you were listening to a co-workers conversation drone on and on.
I’ll bring us back to the meandering stroll analogy. I’ve crucified other movies for wasting my time with flash and trash, with no actual plot. But what makes “The Icarus Line Must Die” so unique is that it is a film about nothing that pulls your interest. There’s no need for tension and urgency, you’re just watching this artist trying to figure out how he’ll get through to the next day. That speaks. There are enough interesting elements here, that we can cobble together an enjoyable experience.
I congratulate “The Icarus Line Must Die” on a truly unique film experience. “The Icarus Line Must Die” will be available on VOD on July 10!
Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. Bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.