It’s telling that one of the more memorable moments of this doc is a pretty sordid joke told repeatedly over the course of it by the subject of the film, Newfie folky Ron Hynes. It’s one of those groaners, chuckle-funny at first, but sad and pathetic by the end. This sentiment fits the subject as well, a warts-and-all look at the resuscitation of a journeyman’s career. Unfortunately, without the fictional freedom that the likes of CRAZY HEART can provide, we’re left with a pretty somber, not particularly engaging character who we follow for a feature length take.
Hynes’ career spans decades, and he former celebrated past is mixed with his past stumbles with drug and drink abuse. We do see footage of him at his lowest, and even those closest to him seem ambivalent about his state, speaking to the Jekyl/Hyde nature of his behaviour.
The tunes, more well known to a segment of Canada I’m alas not a part of, are to my ear fairly mediocre folk pablum, lacking either the majesty of a Lightfoot, the musicianship of a Cockburn, or the erudition of a Stan Rogers (and we’re not even addressing the genius of a Neil, a Leonard or a Joni). As such, we quickly get the gist of the piece, and it seems to run longer than its actual running time. Still, it exposes a light on what for many I’m sure is a forgotten treasure, and clunkiness of presentation aside, it should make for decent viewing as part of a documentary program on television.