Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll is as long and unwieldy as its title, but it's probably the most revealing look we'll ever get of its subject, and the most loving evocation of his music.
This portrait of Mr. Berry is downbeat, and in some ways incomplete; it's very different from what might have been expected. But in its own way, Mr. Hackford's film is revealing.
What one misses most of all are some glimpses of the earlier Chuck Berry, when the intensity of his music and his jackrabbit moves had more satanic majesty; too much of this film shows him at half-throttle.
It's a great concert, but it's also a fascinating character study.
The film works on two levels: as a portrait of a private, bitter and streetwise man, and as a major musical talent performing with obvious delight.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll is a joyous docu that effortlessly weaves luminary rock interviews with performance footage mostly shot at Berry's 60th birthday bash concert at the Fox Theatre St Louis.
Entertaining as it often is, Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll! could have used a little less showmanship, a little more confidence in its wonderful subject.
Whatever the grammatic contortions of its title, Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock `n` Roll offers a compelling portrait of a hardened veteran of the business called show.
| Original Score: 3/4