If you happened to attend Melbourne Film Festival or the more recent Sydney Film Festival for that matter, you would have come across Courtney Barnett in Anonymous Club. The film directed by Danny Cohen is a rare close up of life as a musician on the road. We're not talking about the obnoxious hotel-destroying, drug and alcohol haze touted by the clingers on of rock n' roll. As far as we're concerned we've ploughed through more of those than we can stomach. No thanks. Where Cohen's gaze differs from old hat touring docos is in his gentle and thought provoking approach.
Of course, besides this style being a sign of the times, it's also much more reflective of Courtney Barnett as a person; introverted, introspective and earnest. This shines through in Anonymous Club where Barnett speaks on experiencing bouts of depression and anxiety attacks as she promotes her 2018 studio album Tell Me How You Really Feel.
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In the trailer we hear her introduce the subject in that recognisable Melbourne twang. "I woke up having one of those, like, just feeling sad days. I think sometimes it’s okay to feel sad and keep on going with what you’re doing," she says. "I just turned thirty and I feel like I've stepped over some sort of line but I'm still lost."
While musicians in general are noted for being more vocal about where their head is at, it's refreshing to watch Barnett reckon with these feelings on screen. Anonymous Club is narrated by Barnett herself through a stream of dictaphone recordings, while Cohen gathered around 25 to 30 hours of Kodak film footage before narrowing it all down to 83 minutes. It's clear that Barnett's vulnerability pays off. From what we can tell, Anonymous Club delivers an unflinching portrait of Barnett that ultimately woos the audience. Not just that, but the film offers a hopeful narrative to those grappling with ill mental health.
"I know it's not completely bad because I keep looking forward to the next day. I have hope for the next day to fix whatever was wrong the day before."
Watch the trailer for Anonymous Club, below before the film is released in theatres throughout Australia in March 2022.