Coldplay’s new documentary, “A Head Full of Dreams” explores the band’s 20-year narrative as one of the world’s most “insufferable bands.” Despite all the criticism and the hate, Coldplay has soared on their new path of acceptance and love, grossing over $523 million in ticket sales for 2016-2017’s “A Head Full of Dreams” – becoming the third highest grossing tour ever, according to Billboard.com.
“We wanted to make the album that we’ve always dreamed of,” said Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. “It’s just like a dream come true, the whole thing. It was just time for us to make an album about hope, love and togetherness.”
Since I have listened to the entire album and have seen the ” A Head Full of Dreams” tour twice, I can say with much confidence that Coldplay accomplished what they set out for and that is what I love about this documentary. Fans get to see how the album and tour were created.
Whether you love Coldplay or not, there is a lesson to be learned within this film. It is that life is one big journey filled with tons of ups and downs. Director Mat Whitecross does an excellent job of capturing this journey for the band and producing it into a fluid narrative, showing how Coldplay rose to fame, the conflicts they faced along the way and everything in between.
I particularly found the footage from 2015’s “A Head Full of Dreams” really interesting, as it was fascinating to see the creative process from such established professionals. It was also quite remarkable to see really old footage of Chris Martin saying, “This is a new song,” and just belting out the song “The Scientist” as if it is no big deal.
Viewers also get an in-depth look into who the rockers were before becoming “Coldplay.” For instance, Martin was an extreme joker – and still is – while guitarist Johnny Buckland was your classic stoner. One thing that Coldplay has always been known for is their privacy, so it was a unique experience to get such a close-up look at who they are as people and how they have grown up.
This experience is further developed in a unique scene where the band appears to be performing a sound check in 2008 as a gloomy Martin questions why The New York Times had to call them “insufferable.”
Martin is literally my idol, so seeing him in such a vulnerable, defeated state made him much more relatable. He is not God— just a dude who can play guitar, and I think that is one of the points that Whitecross wanted to get across.
Another really cool aspect is how Whitecross takes you through the band’s story, one album at a time. Without a doubt, some of the primary focus is spent on 2000’s “Parachutes,” which of course has the cult single “Yellow” on it. Although I liked this creative decision, I will say that there was not a enough time spent on the later albums, such as “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends,” “Mylo Xyloto” and “Ghost Stories.”
Another issue that I had with the documentary is that there was not enough focus on particular songs. While there is a cool segment where we see Beyonce record her vocals for “Hymn For The Weekend,” I would have really loved to hear Martin discuss “Viva La Vida” or Coldplay’s dive into EDM music with hits like “A Sky Full of Stars” and The Chainsmokers’ duo “Something Just Like This.”
My final complaint for the film is that we do not learn anything new besides innocent history, such as Coldplay being formed. While we do learn that bass player Guy Berryman used to have a drinking problem and that Martin was depressed after his divorce from actress Gwyneth Paltrow, I would have really loved to have learned more about personal in-band conflicts.
For example, throughout the movie the band members constantly emphasize how close they are and how things have never been better, but we never really get exposed to the actual drama. It is mentioned that Martin could be too controlling or that drummer Will Champion could be too opinionated, but we never get specific instances of how this affected the band.
Perhaps that is why Coldplay has been able to outlast their critics: they have stayed true to who they are and have allowed their music to evolve. Ten years ago, they were jamming out with rock legend Brian Eno, making tunes like “Viva La Vida,” “Yes” and “Violet Hill.” In 2018, they are known for joining forces with rapper Big Sean and The Chainsmokers.
Some people may accuse Coldplay of selling out to make commercial pop music, but I think they are just having fun and that is what this documentary is: fun with a group of decent guys who coincidentally are worth over $500 million. They are no big deal and are just like you and me.