The project that director Gorman Bechard completed right before this one was an unorthodox and super risky documentary about The Replacements titled Color Me Obsessed. I use the word “risky” mainly owing to Bechard’s bold (legally necessary?) choice of eschewing any interviews with members of the seminal Minneapolis rock band or using any of their actual music in the film. It’s actually pretty rad to watch what he managed to pull off by interviewing a bunch well-known folks who have kept the band close to their hearts for so long. The film deviates wildly from the boilerplate talking-head style of music documentary we’ve become accustomed to over the years, to be sure. Bechard’s latest film, in contrast, grants him unprecedented access to his subject: Grant Hart. And while Every Everything has an unfinished feel to it, at the same time it’s undeniably fascinating in how uncomfortably close it draws to its subject.
As the drummer and co-vocalist/co-songwriter of seminal Minneapolis hardcore-cum-indie band Hüsker Dü, Grant Hart has spent the majority of his adult life as an adulated figure, someone who Michael Azzerrad fawned over uncontrollably in Our Band Could Be Your Life (with good reason, too). As a somewhat open bi-sexual, Hart (along with band co-chair Bob Mould, who was definitely more open about being into boys) was something of a poster child for the acceptance of alternative lifestyles in the heretofore mostly straight and violent hardcore scene. Something which before Hüsker Dü had been unthought of.
That’s a lot of pressure for someone who was admittedly pretty weird about being famous at all in the first place. Hart’s weird relationship with the fame and infamy that came from the insanely original way he advanced pop and rock music is on grand display in Every Everything. We in the audience are confronted with the kind of embarrassing way he chooses to talk about it, too. Content to spend more time talking about how he really likes making collage, how he learned collage from his sister, and how people don’t make good collage anymore, Hart beautifully and painfully avoids the sensational nature of his own public life as much as is possible. But eventually it all just starts coming out. But it comes out in a way that’s unnervingly unfinished. He knew there was something wrong with the way his band ended. He knows there’s something off with his reasons for ending it. But if those reasons are knowable, he’ll be the first to admit he has no idea what they are.
Mr. Hart’s heartbreaking reminiscences are made all the more shattering by the fact that he manages somehow to strip away all forms of sentimentality from the way he experienced moments that to folks out in the crowd were nothing short of era-defining. Frank recollections of using heroin as a means to maintain a level of performance during tours and only a dull flickering of remorse as he considers how his role as an absentee father might’ve given his son some hardships in life.
The archival footage, of which there’s a thoughtfully measured amount, does a bang-up job of limning Hart’s importance in the band. Whereas we’ve all experienced docs that just throw a glut of unreleased live material up on the screen because — let’s face it — that’s pretty sweet stuff for fanboys, Every Everything shows us some pretty awesome live footage of Hüsker Dü gigs because you can see, in literally every one of the clips, just how intense and usually conflicted Grant Hart was during their performances.
Grant Hart is weird because he kind of gets how important he was for rock & roll and at the same time he doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. While it’s a cliche to even bring it up, he has a definite Minnesota Nice quality in regard to discussing what he’s done with his artistic career and how much what he’s done might have influenced the world of modern Western music. Parts of Every Everything are frustrating, but they’re frustrating because the film’s subject himself is quintessentially frustrating. Bechard has done that rare thing in documentary filmmaking. He’s fully allowed his subject to dictate the tone of the film. As an audience, we’re better off because of it.