BFI #LFF 2018: AFTER THE SCREAMING STOPS Film Review

Matt and Luke Goss in AFTER THE SCREAMING STOPS

Despite the odd awkward moment, AFTER THE SCREAMING STOPS is an intimate portrait of the Goss brothers

From Blondie and The Police to Erasure and New Kids on the Block, the number of 80s pop bands reuniting is certainly on the rise. So when British pop sensation Bros announced they were getting back together for a special comeback tour in 2017, it hardly seemed like big news.

During the late 1980s, Bros were one of the biggest bands in the world – for 15 minutes. The band, consisting of identical twin brothers Matt and Luke Goss and fellow school friend Craig Logan, sold over 10 million albums worldwide with songs such as WHEN WILL I BE FAMOUS? and I OWE YOU NOTHING earning them top ten hits in the UK. But just like their meteoric rise, the fall of Bros was as equally fast and dramatic, resulting in a tumultuous relationship between the two brothers ever since.

Fast forward almost thirty years later and Joe Pearlman and David Soutar’s new documentary AFTER THE SCREAMING STOPS picks up the Goss’ story. The pair are barely on speaking terms when the film begins, the 90-minute documentary opening with an explosive argument between the pair. As they prepare for a massive reunion gig at London’s O2 Arena – their first show together in 28 years – the filmmakers follow Matt and Luke in the lead up to the sell-out show.

Matt and Luke Goss in AFTER THE SCREAMING STOPS

At this point, it’s easy to dismiss AFTER THE SCREAMING STOPS as a generic band reunion story. Pearlman and Soutar follow a traditional documentary formula, merging candid one-to-one interviews with archive footage and behind-the-scenes recordings. But what makes AFTER THE SCREAMING STOPS stand out from the crowd is the strong personalities of the Goss brothers whose constant bickering and deep resentments threaten to derail their big comeback show.

It is this tumultuous relationship which provides the dramatic thrust of the film. As we learn more about the pair, it’s easy to see why the band didn’t last. Despite being identical twins, in many ways, the pair are polar opposites. Luke, the drummer, seems to prefer a quiet life shunning a music career for one in acting with roles in cult favourites like HELLBOY II. Lead singer Matt, however, is still very much still in the spotlight with a successful career as a Las Vegas singer. The pair pretty much clash over everything, from family to creative differences, putting their already fractured relationship in further jeopardy.

Yet, while these squabbles make for an entertaining watch, unless you’re a fan of Bros, the constant bickering makes it difficult to relate to the brothers. Most of their squabbling stems from their inflated egos Matt, in particular, seeming to have almost no sense of self-awareness as he spits out seemingly profound statements which make no sense at all. His brother Luke seems a little more grounded but deep-rooted fears means still has the tendency to overreact, winding up his brother and storming off in a huff like a sulky teenager. Considering the Goss’ are now 49, it all seems a little petty and at times, you wonder whether the brothers are occasionally playing up the drama for the cameras.

Matt and Luke Goss in AFTER THE SCREAMING STOPS

It also doesn’t help that Bros are one of those 80s pop bands that only diehard fans seem to remember. Even as a fan of the era, I must admit that I don’t really remember them beyond WHEN WILL I BE FAMOUS? The archive footage certainly proves that they were big in their heyday but when a Las Vegas casino owner likens Matt Goss’ Vegas residency to that of Frank Sinatra, the drama of it all starts to seem a little fanciful.

That said, the film isn’t really about Bros’ fame or their music but about the family dynamic between the two brothers. Here, Pearlman and Soutar deliver some beautiful poignant moments, such as the acoustic recording of a song dedicated to their mother in which the brothers reconcile. It is these raw moments which make the whole awkward ride worthwhile and when the come-back gig finally does arrive, you can’t help but root for the brothers to overcome their differences and put on a killer show.

(3.5 / 5)

AFTER THE SCREAMING STOPS screens at the BFI London Film Festival on 17 October and is released worldwide from 9 November 2018.

Donna is the Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she is a digital marketing whizz, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage, The Public Reviews and ScreenRelish. Loves Shakespeare, prosecco and Formula 1