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USA 2010
Directed by
Stephen Kijak
145 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Stones In Exile

Stephen Kijak’s documentary is in reality a sophisticated promo for the enhanced re-release of The Rolling Stones' 1972 double album, Exile On Main Street, the last of the band's classic albums, starting with Beggar's Banquet in 1968 and moving through Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers.

Executive produced by the three remaining original members, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts (the latter no doubt having a lesser say) it tells the story of how the Stones fled England's extortionate tax man (93% income tax), rapacious management and the scorn of muckraking dailies for the relatively idyllic setting of Nellcote, Keith Richards'  villa in the South of France, where a substantial amount of the album was recorded in a haze of drugs.

A lavish promo it may be but it still has enough archival photography (thanks to photographer Dominique Tarlé and filmmaker Robert Frank, director of the infamous Stones '72 tour film, Cocksucker Blues) to make this a pleasurable outing for Stones fans although unfortunately there were no video cameras in those days so Kijak relies largely on stills to recreate the period. Nevertheless this and insights into the creative process behind the album make the film of interest. What comes through loud and clear is the fact that despite the chaos of the times the band maintained at least some semblance of a work ethic while art and life blurred into each other.

Also included on DVD release as extras but in many ways its highlights are extended Interviews with survivors of the era including a time-ravaged Anita Pallenberg, a shaggy Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood who still regards the Stones with reverence, something which indicates just how awesome their legend is.




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