We Are X

| April 25, 2017

While the film contains many highlights and ends positively, there’s a sense of sadness throughout We Are X, a wave of melancholia that permeates throughout the band’s history and as individuals. It is this sense of dread that makes the documentary so engaging, that you’re left wanting so much more by the time it’s over. We Are X covers the band, X Japan, a Visual Kei band, a music genre that is a fusion of Glam and Speed Metal that created much fervor in the 1980’s of Japan. While they’ve garnered much success in their native homeland and around the rest of the globe, X Japan has never found any success within the United States. On the cusp of their final world tour, with a major stop at Madison Square Garden, We Are X captures the band at a critical point, as well as diving into their rich history to offer a glimpse that is riveting, insightful and an essential viewing experience for anyone that enjoys music.

While I’ve never been into Visual Kei as a genre, I still knew about X Japan. As a fan of Japanese culture, I’ve still heard of some of their hit songs and have heard about how large their fan base is in their homeland. Even though I had some minor knowledge of this, We Are X enticed me enough to want to know more about them, listen to their music and truly become part of the experience. The film mostly centers around their drummer, Yoshiki, who’s the founder, leader and constant within the band. We learn of his aspirations and various tragedies in his life,  which propels Yoshiki to dedicate his entire being to playing music. This is utilized as the throughline within We Are X, on top of the countdown to playing at Madison Square Garden. We also learn a major portion from the other band members as well, but we’re offered the most insight to Yoshiki as the band leader, the impetus for X Japan and the trials and tribulations that he is to endure.

We Are X utilizes many of the essential elements that create a great documentary. From archival footage to voice overs to interviews, We Are X manages to illustrate a discerning portrait of a band that is always insightful and never meandering. Producers John Battsek, who also produced the Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man and Dianne Becker, who produced Manhunt: The Inside Story of the Hunt for Bin Ladin have a clear track record for helping create captivating documentaries and We Are X is no exception. Director Stephen Kijak, who helmed 2010’s Stones in Exile is also familiar with the music documentary and lends his expertise to craft We Are X into a music documentary that resonates as much as it devastates.

Even if one isn’t a fan of Glam rock aesthetics or speed metal, We Are X is an intimate portrait of a group of artists that encapsulates triumph as much as it does grief. We Are X is a striking film about artists, tortured souls, friendship and most importantly, the music that is channeled through those trying times. Highly Recommended!

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
Filed in: Video and DVD

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