jimmy barnes: working class boy

Director: mark joffe (the man who sued god)

documentary

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

★★★★

Based on Barnes' memoir of the same name, this documentary tells the story of his childhood survival in the slums of Glasgow, immigration to Australia, and how he became the lead singer of Cold Chisel.

Before watching Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy I'd never heard of him or of Cold Chisel. But what a guy and what a story. 

Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy follows the life of Jimmy Barnes from his earliest memories in Glasgow, his life as a child immigrant to Australia, and then on to his illustrious music career. 

This doco feels like its a life story thats told down the pub some cold winter night, with all of the humour and horror that can be found in someones life. 

We hear about conditions in Glasgow, how Jimmy's father was a part of a gang and how it was a ruthless place filled with violence in the streets where gangs with razors unleashed their violent fury and that violence followed folks home in the form of alcoholism, abuse, and rape. 

Often when we think of poverty we think of it in some distant, war torn, far off country not in Glasgow. But we hear the tales of starving kids playing in the muddy streets and it really is harrowing stuff. 

Then we move to the sunlit shores of Australia but all of the problems of the past; the violence, alcohol, and poverty follow the family. Jimmy's younger years seem to teeter from bad to worse. 

Its not all depressing stuff. There are funny and unusual recollections too like when his five foot tall mother head butted someone making fun of her son or when some lions from a circus escape. 

All of this is interspersed with music from Jimmy and a raft of singers including his son and daughter. There's interviews with old band members, with neighbours, family, and his wife. But its Jimmy we've come to see and we do get to see behind the mask to the real him. Its raw, filled with love, complicated, funny, frustrated, and hopeful. Kind of what it is to be human. 

A fascinating exploration of the life of Jimmy Barnes interspersed with music from his life. 

★★★★

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Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital from all good disc and digital retailers. 

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