It’s not ‘The Trip’, that’s for sure. Although Michael Winterbottom’s latest film ‘On the Road’ certainly has some similarities. It’s a blend of fact and fiction to start: part tour documentary about London indie stars Wolf Alice, part fictional story about photographer Estelle (Leah Harvey) and roadie Joe (James McArdle).
Wolf Alice aren’t really the subject here – they fall into the background as Winterbottom focuses on capturing the daily life of a touring band: the repetition, the transience, the cycle of dreamy drunkenness and empty hangovers, the surreal tiredness, the monotonous English countryside rushing past the tour bus windows.
Alongside that is the fictional hooking up of Estelle and Joe. It’s sweetly realised but gets a bit erotic mid-way, which feels at odds with the rest of the film (although maybe not a total surprise to anyone who’s seen Winterbottom’s ‘9 Songs’).
This isn’t a story of rock ’n’ roll bad behaviour or larger than life characters, and in some ways that’s refreshing. And the laid-back, heady vibes are quite lovely. But that approach does mean that things get kind of boring. At two hours long, it drags in places. By the end you might be wishing for a couple of washed-up comedians to make an appearance.