A 1991 Brooklyn tribute concert to folk and jazz musician Tim Buckley reveals the musical legacy inherited by his son, Jeff.
Aspiring singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, 24, is reluctant to travel to New York’s St Ann’s Church to sing in a 1991 tribute concert to his father Tim Buckley – a folk and jazz musician who released 16 albums before a heroin overdose, aged 28.
At St Ann’s Church, Jeff (Penn Badgely) is disconcerted by how often people say he’s the image of the dad he barely knew; his parents divorced just one month before his birth.
Jeff’s presence in New York evokes anecdotes and stories from his father’s band members and triggers his own forays to his father’s former haunts. As he struggles to understand his father’s motivations for leaving, Jeff rehearses his father’s songs and explores his own voice.
The introspection is gently placed to one side as he flirts with Allie (a dynamic Imogen Poots), the confident and matter-of-fact intern. Their gentle friendship off-sets the flashbacks to Tim Buckley (Ben Rosenfield) as he comes to the decision to leave his first wife and the surprise and joy in hearing of the birth of his son, Jeff.
Daniel Algrant has produced a lyrical film which places you inside the music from the opening “Chase the blues away” to Jeff’s cover of “Lilac Wine”. Penn Badgely performs his singing scenes live and convinces as Jeff Buckley in the film’s heart – the Brooklyn tribute concert filmed inside St Ann’s Church.
The film achieves a sense of closure. After the concert climax where Jeff sings “I never asked to be your mountain”, Tim’s song for his wife and infant son, and concludes with an a capella soulful rendition of “Once I Was” (“Sometimes I wonder just for a while – will you ever remember me?”), we see Tim in flashback.
After Jeff’s birth, he would slip back into the house to see his son asleep. Yes, thanks to his dad’s band colleague and an invitation to New York, Jeff’s met his dad three times now – at ages one and eight, and in his music.
DURATION: 99 minutes
Film review written for 4ZZZ, July 28.