The documentary of the week | Thank You, Good Night – The odyssey of Bon Jovi: sanctified rocker

The documentary of the week | Thank You, Good Night – The odyssey of Bon Jovi: sanctified rocker
The documentary of the week | Thank You, Good Night – The odyssey of Bon Jovi: sanctified rocker

1980s arena rock icon Bon Jovi is the subject of a five-hour documentary series. It’s at least two too many, but it sheds interesting light on the singer’s personality and the tensions that undermined the group.


Posted at 1:45 a.m.

Updated at 8:00 a.m.

There’s not much Jon Bon Jovi regrets about his 40 years with the band that bears his name. He cites just one in the last episode of the four-part documentary broadcast on Disney+: having sung Livin’ on a Prayer And You Give Love a Bad Name an octave too high.

Its questioning is cyclical. These two hits made Bon Jovi one of the most popular bands on the planet in the mid-to-late 1980s. He knows it. Except that by the time the film is shot, in 2022, he can no longer reach this altitude vocally. His voice is hoarse and tired. It disturbs him deeply and colors his entire Thank You, Good Night – The Bon Jovi Odyssey.

His difficulties are not abnormal: he has aged. However, he also has a serious problem with a vocal cord. In scenes of rare intimacy, we see the singer doing vocal exercises with the help of a therapist. He also makes himself heard even though he is far from being at the top of his art…

This element is crucial in the documentary, because Jon Bon Jovi ends up undergoing a procedure whose success will determine the future of his group. There is no question of him making an Elvis of himself and going into decline. “If I can’t be at the peak of what I can be, it’s thank you, good evening,” he says.

“Authorized” documentary

Thank You, Good Night places great emphasis on the work ethic of the singer, who comes from a modest family in New Jersey. Inspired by his compatriot Springsteen, he also dreams of reaching the top of the rock world. What he will do with Richie Sambora, David Bryan, Tico Torres and Alec Such, as well as the records Slippery When Wet And New Jersey.

The series has all the appearances of an authorized documentary. Bon Jovi’s story is told by his loved ones and his musicians. Even Richie Sambora, who left in confusion in 2013, approaches this chapter of his life with pride, although his bitterness is evident.

Not surprisingly, the series tends to make Jon Bon Jovi a kind of demigod.

He is presented as an exceptional crowd leader, a captain with the right flair, a workaholic who often had to rescue his colleagues who had lost themselves in drugs or alcohol… At 62 years old, he seems to be a good father, who discovers the hard way that his abilities are diminishing and who finds the weight he carries more and more overwhelming. His pride takes a hit.

Surface

Yes, internal tensions are addressed. Yes, Jon confides a lot in the present. For the rest, the documentarians are content to remain on the surface: they modestly evoke the excesses of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll of the 1980s, emphasize the group’s successes without giving voice to any of its detractors and – it is more disturbing – talk very little about… music.

The members of Bon Jovi are presented as determined and ambitious guys, but never as artists with a vision. It could be argued that Bon Jovi’s work is not stylistically significant. However, it was not built by chance or in isolation: hearing these musicians create their emblematic sound, exploring the vocal alchemy between Sambora and Jon, recounting the quest for artistic renewal in the 2000s would have justified these five hours which ultimately prove to be twice too long for so little.

On Disney+

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