December 2, 2019  (Web Review)

The Quiet One

(2019) 98 min. DVD: $24.99. MPI Media Group (avail. from most distributors). SDH captioned.

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

Filmmaker Oliver Murray’s documentary profile of Bill Wyman, the Rolling Stones’ original bassist—who left the band in 1993—is the story of a life with multiple chapters. Some center on the 33 years Wyman spent with Mick Jagger and company during the Stones’ legendary era. But many more are about Wyman’s impoverished childhood in London, where he (born William Perks Jr. in 1936) made the most of mischief in the rubble of bombed-out buildings during the WWII-era Blitz. Piano lessons at age 10 introduced Wyman to music, and after a later stint in the Royal Air Force (where Wyman was introduced to American country music and late-50s rock ‘n’ roll via radio and records)—he joined the Cliftons, a club band, as a guitarist. Switching to bass, Wyman auditioned for the Stones in 1962, setting his destiny for decades to come. Murray dives into Wyman’s astonishing archives of Stones history: home movies Wyman shot; interviews on cassette tape; and photographs, film, and VHS. Wyman sits in front of a computer, his back to Murray’s camera, slowly cataloging everything for posterity. Wyman also talks about the Altamont concert disaster in 1969 (a free outdoor show in which the Hells Angels attacked the crowd, resulting in a murder), the death of the Stones’ Brian Jones, and the breakups of Wyman’s first two marriages. But it’s the non-Stones material that is often the most joyous: Wyman’s solo career, his artistic life beyond music, his twilight years in the South of France, and his long friendships with the likes of painter Marc Chagall and Nobel Prize-winning author André Gide. Highly recommended. Aud: C, P. (T. Keogh)