The Quiet One is a documentary for the die-hard Rolling Stones fan
I’ll start this off by giving you a quick insight into my knowledge of the Rolling Stones as a fan. I’m certainly not a die-hard fan who knows every piece of information about every album and every song. I don’t know all of the ins and outs of the band members over the years. In fact, I’m much more of a casual fan of the band. I’ve listened to most of their albums at some point or another over the years and I like most of their singles whenever I come across one on the radio (or in a Scorsese film). As far as albums go, Exile on Main St. is the one that stuck with me the most, and it’s one that I put on quite regularly.
The familiarly that you have with the Rolling Stones will drastically shape your reception to Oliver Murray’s new documentary, The Quiet One. It tells the story of Bill Wyman, former bassist and founding member of the Rolling Stones. As the title of the film suggests, Wyman was always known for his reserved personality. He let Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the others soak in the fame while he more or less went along for the ride.
Wyman was a key member of the band from 1962 until his departure in 1993. He talks about his approach to creating his bass parts in ways that helped lay the foundations for their songs. He didn’t want any flashy parts that would overtake the guitars or lead vocals. His simple mindset was to create a backbone to each song that would allow Jagger and Richards the chance to shine. It’s really interesting to see the way his playing style perfectly matched his personality.
It was Wyman’s knack for preserving memorabilia that allowed him to walk away from his time with the band with more than just his memories. The film opens in Wyman’s home workspace, which is basically a library of the Stones’ storied history. The archived memorabilia is comprised of interviews, home movies, posters, photographs, newspaper clippings and more. Archiving the band became an obsession for Wyman. He held onto anything that he could get his hands on over the years. It’s this obsession that really made this documentary possible. You get access to a lot of unseen footage and audio. It’s these rare pieces of history that should make for a compelling documentary. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work for me.
It all comes back to me being a casual fan of the band. This documentary wasn’t really made for the basic fan. It was made for those more dedicated fans who are looking for something new in the world of the Rolling Stones. For those who are clamoring for a different side of the band that they haven’t seen (or heard) before, this documentary will likely work very well for them.
We do get some insight into Wyman’s life. We learn a little bit about his upbringing during WW2, his strained relationship with his father, and the chances that he took to be in the band. But honestly, there’s not enough intrigue here to warrant an entire documentary on his life. The real draw of this documentary comes from his archived materials. But like I mentioned earlier, if you aren’t a serious longtime fan of the band, you probably won’t be in awe of the never-before-seen footage.
Wyman himself narrates most of the film, which is a really nice touch. He walks you through a lot of history with a genuine approach to his narration. I came to really appreciate his sincere passion for music and art. He truly values all of these things that he has held onto for so many years. And while it was mostly enjoyable to relive some of these experiences with Wyman throughout the documentary, there wasn’t enough substance to his story for me to fully appreciate it. If you are a long-standing Rolling Stones fan looking for something new that doesn’t center on Jagger or Richards, you will most likely find this documentary much more rewarding than I did.
The Quiet One is now playing at the Ritz at the Bourse.