Review: ‘The Extraordinary Ordinary Life of Jose Gonzalez’

The music and musings of the singer-songwriter get a subdued showcase in docu.

The music and musings of Swedish singer-songwriter-acoustic guitarist Jose Gonzalez get a subdued showcase in the pleasant but not particularly informative docu “The Extraordinary Ordinary Life of Jose Gonzalez,” from co-helmers Fredrik Egerstrand and Mikel Cee Karlsson. Those unfamiliar with the 30ish musician won’t find much background here, or anything special to look at. Definitely more ordinary than extraordinary, the video-diary-like Gothenburg fest opener seems destined for limited domestic consumption, although it might reach international indie-folk fans in ancillary.

Shot over a three-year period (although the chronology is never specified), the pic shows Gonzalez on tour in Japan, Singapore, Spain, the U.S. and U.K., and in his rehearsal studio, trying to compose songs for his second album, “In Our Nature” — and pondering life’s persistent questions, such as how the mind works. From time to time, cheery, childlike animation illustrates Gonzalez’s voiceover narration. Best animated sequence depicts the meeting of Gonzalez’s parents during Argentina’s “dirty war” years, their flight to Sweden and his birth. For a performer whose personal writing is compared with Nick Drake, John Martyn and Paulo Coelho, subtitling of lyrics would be beneficial. Tech aspects are merely adequate.

The Extraordinary Ordinary Life of Jose Gonzalez

Sweden

Production

A Folkets Bio release of a Platform production in co-production with Film i Vast, SVT. (International sales: Platform, Gothenburg.) Produced by Erik Hemmendorff. Directed, written by Fredrik Egerstrand, Mikel Cee Karlsson.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Egerstrand, Karlsson; editor; Karlsson; music, Jose Gonzalez; animation, Per-Isac Snalls. Swedish, English, Spanish dialogue. Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (Nordic competition), Feb. 2, 2010. Running time: 75 MIN.

With

Jose Gonzalez, Yukimi Nagano, Erik Bodin.

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