Released by Cinema Libre Studio
USA. 83 min. Not rated
As the guitarist in the Police, perhaps the biggest band of the early ’80’s, Andy Summers was one of the most influential guitarists of the day. He painted with a larger sonic pallet than most rock musicians and generally used his instrument for color and shading as opposed to mostly rhythm.
His life is the focal point of Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police, a dizzying yet stultifying experience. The documentary skips like a stone off the surface of Summers’ life, dipping in occasionally and then skipping off again to another vaguely related point a few years down the road. It never sinks down or goes deep. It’s essentially an arty Behind the Music episode whose sole interest lies in some candid footage of the band (which, for those not in the know, included the pretentious, arrogant, but undeniably charismatic Sting) and seeing the musicians letting loose on stage.
The visuals consists of photos of Summers and then eventually the Police, along with occasional home movies. Mixed in is footage shot from the Police’s 2007-’08 reunion tour. This is somewhat clumsily spliced in, apparently in an attempt to say that everything has come full circle. More likely, there was not enough footage for a full-length film. Summers narrates what I can only believe are passages from his 2006 autobiography One Train Later in a monotonous drone. I say “I can only believe” because based on this film, there is no way I’m going to read that book.
Summers pretty much hits all the main tropes of the wildly successful, emotionally unfulfilled rock star: years of struggle, sudden fame, a broken marriage, drugs, adulation, groupies galore followed by loneliness and eventually a drug overdose (luckily not in his case) or getting off the merry-go-round, which he thankfully did. Unfortunately, it’s not anything you haven’t seen a thousand times before. Additionally, Summers is the most mild mannered of the three musicians in the band, so what you get is a pretty sedate view of what was widely known as an extremely volatile group.
You do see him play a lot, which is a saving grace, because for all the clunkiness of this particular project, the man really is one of the more imaginative and elegant guitarists out there.