VOD film review: Oasis: Supersonic
James R | On 26, Aug 2021
“Oasis was like a Ferrari: great to look at, great to drive, and it’ll spin out of control every now and again.” That’s how Liam Gallagher, former frontman of the iconic band Oasis in rock documentary Supersonic, sums up the band’s appeal – and Mat Whitecross’ film succeeds by getting behind the wheel and enjoying the roar of the engine.
There are two options when making a film about music – zoom out, with a comprehensive overview of a career or legacy, or zoom in, ignoring the bigger picture to capture what makes the music worth listening to in the first place. Oasis: Supersonic opts for the latter, choosing to focus on the band’s heyday rather than chart its final years. The Oasis we see on screen is the scrappy band of upstarts who have just released one of best-selling albums of all time in (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? and are still riding the wave of excitement.
It’s a wave that, as we know, will come with some seismic ripples, and Whitecross confidently lets that knowledge in hindsight sit in the background and inform what we see. And what we see is a lot of frank footage from behind-the-scenes at concerts, stitched together with amusing interviews with the Gallagher brothers that are presented as off-screen voiceover – a similar device to Amy, directed by Asif Kapadia, who serves here as an executive producer. The result has a similar effect by immersing us in the chaos in a way that makes you feel overwhelmingly present.
There is some space given over to the formation of the band – initially comprising Liam and Noel, along with guitarist Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs, bass player Paul McGuigan and drummer Tony McCarroll – but there’s not much depth on offer, intentionally so. Instead, we get to sit back and marvel at the volatile dynamic between the Gallager boys, whose electric chemistry is key to the band’s success; while Noel seemingly wrote classic after classic in minutes on the bus or train, Liam’s nonchalant confidence made him the perfect counterpart, giving the band a signature voice and ear-worming sound.
That ideal yet impossible double-act could never last and, whether you believe the anecdote offered here that dates their feud back to an incident involving a stereo when they were young, it’s clear that their shared hunger – the same drive and ambition that took them from being council estate kids to worldwide stars – was a help as much as a hinderance. With Noel stepping behind the mic to sing when Liam stepped off stage, a rivalry of egos ensued – although, fascinatingly, there was still a mutual artistic respect. There’s a brotherly love there that also has roots in some poignant revelations about their childhood, and Whitecross manages to portray the whiplash of feelings between the undoubtedly close siblings with a heady honesty. Well, as honest as you can get when surrounded by outlandish anecdotes and Rashomon-like disagreements about what actually happened. But there’s no denying the rush of the band’s 1996 Knebworth Park gig, which bookends the film. “Are you the best band in the world?” asks one TV reporter. “Yeah,” says Noel, matter-of-factly. And for these two hours, you believe him.
Oasis: Supersonic is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.