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If you think punk is about extreme haircuts and body-piercings, then you have not seen HEAVY LOAD. With his gripping narration, Rothwell shows how the unlikely band overcomes various trials and proves that punk culture, social activism, and learning disabilities are not exclusive to one another. Indeed, the term punk is proudly redefined as an attitude of being true to oneself and living a life one really desires.
The band is seen as not only a group of music-loving performers but also people who fight against stereotypes and learning difficulties, and even act as spokesmen through their "Stay Up Late" campaign for those who are cognitively disabled. Relying mainly on a HDV camcorder, this film provides an intimate portrait of the members of this band (particularly the drummer) who refuse to be pitied and whose version of Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head" is absolutely remarkable.
Like his "Deep Water" which focuses on the anti-heros of a sailing voyage, Rothwell offers something different in this rockumentary the presence (or the intervention?) of himself. Uninterested in producing a standard observational documentary, Rothwell's merging with the story, however, makes us ask whether this film is more about the band, or Rothwell's journey through his depressed state. Barely a film about happiness as it claims, HEAVY LOAD is about struggle through difficulties as it captures how the band works its way up to a mainstream music festival. Like Michael's question to Rothwell, we wonder what is next for the ensemble.
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