Morrissey 25: Live: Film Review - The Hollywood Reporter
by Stephen Dalton
Remarkable singer marks quarter century milestone with unremarkable concert film.
The original performance began with an onstage introduction by Morrissey’s friend and cheerleader Russell Brand, a heartfelt eulogy which – bizarrely – has been cut from the finished film. Brand and other celebrity acolytes, including Patti Smith, are now glimpsed only fleetingly in an opening montage. This is a baffling omission, considering Brand is not just an eloquent orator but arguably more famous nowadays than Morrissey himself. But as we long-suffering fans know all too well, the Oscar Wilde of pop moves in mysterious ways.
Among the musical highlights are a clutch of Smiths classics. They include a scouringly heavy remake of Meat Is Murder, an angry vegetarian manifesto illustrated with hellish visual clips of animal cruelty, and a graceful rearrangement of the melancholy ballad Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want. Fans of Morrissey’s retro-crooner side will also enjoy his sumptuous, feverishly melodramatic cover version of Frankie Valli’s 1967 torch song, To Give (The Reason I Live).
Compared to the last official Morrissey concert film, Who Put The M In Manchester? In 2004, 25: Live is a largely lackluster affair. Which is frustrating, because the singer remains a unique cultural icon, with more than enough musical treasure and prickly charisma to make a Don’t Look Back or a Stop Making Sense. But that would require a heavyweight director to challenge and cajole him out of his mid-life comfort zone. Until then, he will continue to preach to the converted with perfunctory promotional items like this, which is as good as it needs to be but no more.