blur: To The End
Photograph: Altitude
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blur: To The End

4 out of 5 stars

A transcendent fly-on-the-wall film charting the journey to the biggest shows of blur’s career

David Hughes

Time Out says

The brilliant 2010 documentary No Distance Left to Run charted the history of the Britpop hitmakers blur and the journey to their huge reunion gig at Hyde Park, after a falling-out a decade before. But despite the band members’ separate lives and other interests, from Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz and operas to Alex James’s cheese, middle age had mellowed the fractious foursome. A new studio album followed in 2015. 

Then, in 2023, blur celebrated their rekindled brotherhood – at this point, they feel more like brothers than their former Britpop rivals, the Gallaghers, with two sell-out performances at Wembley Stadium (a venue they’d never played before) and a critically-acclaimed album, The Ballad of Darren. Director Toby L (Liam Gallagher: Knebworth 22) was there to document everything: from Albarn gently weeping as he hears The Ballad of Darren’s first playback, to Albarn and Coxon’s return to Colchester’s Stanway comprehensive, where the singer recalls being regularly bullied. Why? “’Cause they thought I was a cunt,” he grins puckishly.

Far from a slick, record-label-sanctioned promotional film, blur: To the End is a fly-on-the-wall look at a band coming to terms with themselves and their shared history and destiny. It swerves formal interviews in favour of moments of friendship, joy, melancholia and reflection that transcend the ‘for the fans’ framework of a typical album/tour film and becomes something more meaningful. It’s still downbeat – this is blur, after all – but in a four-lifelong-friends-in-a-pub-having-a-pint kind of way, except the pub is Wembley Stadium and the two biggest shows of their 36-year career.

This is far from a slick, record-label-sanctioned promotional film

There’s a point, about two thirds of the way in, when Toby stops showing which of the band members is talking. Suddenly, for all their differences over the years, it no longer seems to matter. Their thoughts and words – about each other, the band, fame, and how modern life is still rubbish 30 years on – seem to, well, blur together, until finally they are all singing the same song: a vow to make each other, and their fans, proud. Plus, as Albarn half-jokes, ‘try not to die’.

Is this the end of the road? Maybe. But whatever the future holds for Colchester’s finest, it’s been emotional. 

In UK cinemas Jul 19

Cast and crew

  • Director:Toby L
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