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Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band

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Canada, United States

Rated R · 1h 40m

Director Daniel Roher
Starring Robbie Robertson, Martin Scorsese, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen
Genre Documentary, History, Music
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A moving story of Robbie Robertson’s personal journey, overcoming adversity and finding camaraderie alongside the four other men who would become his brothers in music, together making their mark on music history as The Band. The film blends rare archival footage, photography, iconic songs, and interviews with Martin Scorsese, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, and more.


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The New York Times by Ben Kenigsberg

You can’t beat the access or the clips, although the absence of Hudson (whom Roher apparently filmed) from the present-day interviews is peculiar. His voice might have provided a valuable counterpoint to Robertson’s recollections.

Variety by Chris Willman

The film picks up more general interest once it moves past the early nobility of the outfit as a band of brothers into the things that cripple the least greatest of groups ... Robertson [is] an articulate and ingratiating tour guide through all this glorious and eventually tortured history.

Slant Magazine by Chuck Bowen

Robertson’s sense of having witnessed friends and collaborators get washed away by bitterness and addiction was more fulsomely evoked by The Last Waltz.

IndieWire by Kate Erbland

Robertson, a deeply talented musician and songwriter who is still working today, is a fascinating subject, but the really compelling stuff is lingering just out of the frame. Without a more well-rounded selection of voices ... or a more critical-minded director to give the film perspective, Robertson is free to obscure the bigger questions and deeper meanings, opting for self-mythologizing over self-reflection.

Los Angeles Times by Kenneth Turan

It is a measure of the singularity of the Band’s story, and the way their music remains such a tonic to experience, that “Brothers” still demands to be seen.

The Hollywood Reporter by Michael Rechtshaffen

Although, structurally speaking, the production follows a safely familiar path, it doesn’t require a lot of fancy footwork when you’ve got an enthusiastic on-camera fan base including Bruce Springsteen, Scorsese, Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal and Van Morrison, a terrific storytelling arc, a treasure trove of archival footage and, naturally, those iconic songs.

Movie Nation by Roger Moore

All music documentaries are subjective in that they’re the most engrossing to those the most into the music. But for the right fan, Roher’s lovely leafing through musical history will be touching and at times thrilling.

Screen Daily by Tim Grierson

This conventional rock-doc is light on new insights — and its focus on Robertson’s viewpoint short-changes his former bandmates in this often-contentious group — but it tells its story with considerable affection.