The idea of David Lynch directing a concert movie of Duran Duran remains far more exciting than the result, live-streamed two years ago on YouTube and currently on the market for distribution as a feature. Though Lynch appears at the start of the pic to announce his “experiment,” the surrealist master’s one trick here is to superimpose depressingly literal, color representations of lyrics over standard-issue black-and-white footage of the new wavers onstage. DD fans will complain that the band can’t be ogled over Lynch’s digital doodlings, while Lynch completists will grouse that there’s too much Duran Duran onstage in “Duran Duran Unstaged.”
Lynch’s first feature-length work since “Inland Empire” in 2006, “Duran Duran” opens pre-concert with a high-pitched, overenunciating Lynch exclaiming, “I’m very happy to be working for Duran Duran!” Be that as it may, fun remains in short supply for the viewer, whose patience is tested precisely by the auteur’s illustrative images — a gape-mouthed lupine beast for “Hungry Like the Wolf,” lights in a freeway tunnel for “Being Followed,” a spinning globe for “Planet Earth,” etc. Even allowing for the pressures of on-the-fly direction as required by the project’s live webcast format, “Duran Duran” looks exceedingly lazy.
The film’s sound, on the other hand, is stellar, sharply showcasing the reunited band members in fine form on ’80s pop hits such as “Rio,” “A View to a Kill” and “Girls on Film,” as well as more recent songs. Smoldering frontman Simon Le Bon appears particularly inspired on DD’s Top 10 tunes of the early ’90s, “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone,” although the latter nearly comes undone itself as a result of Lynch’s superimposed images of hot-dog wieners frying and flipping on a charcoal grill.
Lynch’s longtime d.p., Peter Deming, doesn’t do enough to accommodate the director’s incessantly indulgent overlays, while Noriko Miyakawa’s editing remains held captive to the wildly overused double-image conceit. Ultimately, none of “Duran Duran Unstaged” seems a fraction as psychedelic as one would’ve hoped.
Onscreen title appears as just “Duran Duran,” and the film’s director as Lynch, although some Cannes market screening notices billed the helmer as one Steve Stone.