Phil Lynott: Songs for While I’m Away by Emer Reynolds [9/10]

I remember being shocked in 1986 by the premature death, at age 36, of the former lead singer of Thin Lizzy, a band with some brilliant hard-rocking songs and much ordinary pfaff. One of the strengths of “Phil Lynott: Songs for While I’m Away” is bringing home just how complex the seemingly bravura Lynott, with his trademark appearance, actually was. Indeed, it seems that the crucial narrative hook utilised by filmmaker Emer Reynolds was telling Lynott’s life story through his many songs. This works brilliantly, each chosen song dovetailing with an aspect of the singer’s character or chapters of his life. Various talking heads bring sparkle to the narrative; notable interviewees include some old friends, Midge Ure, a laconic Scott Goreham, and Huey Lewis. In the end, the filmmaker’s nuanced, perhaps even poetic examination of a rock genius’s all-too-short life imbues her subject with awe and tragedy. A must for rock music aficionados, Phil Lynott is a documentary triumph.

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