CinemasLot’s review published on Letterboxd:
Wonderful, dare I say even magical at times. I've never really known much about the musical group The Talking Heads before watching Stop Making Sense (1984). But now that I have, I can see in more ways than one why the group (and this film for that matter) are held on such a high pedestal.
What separates this concert film from others is the intimacy that it shares with the band itself. The concert opens with our leading man coming out on stage by himself, and he opens the entire show with just a solo performance. Even I have to admit that this threw me off guard as I'm not used to watching concerts begin like this. As the setlist continues, more and more of the members join in to the point where it feels like the new-wave equivalent of a orchestra.
It is a concert film, so I guess we should talk about the music for a bit. In short, really fun and engaging. Most of the songs gave off some really out of this world vibes, while others proved to be very expressive in terms of its subject matter. Front man David Byrne is like a cartoon character come to life. From his smooth as butter dance moves, to his monstrous suit, the dude is able to captivate an audience unlike any other performer in his genre.
Johnathan Demme's direction is quite stellar, often evoking fantastical auras around the performers. Everytime we are given the chance to focus in on Byrne's facial expressions and persona, the more you just get sucked into the moment. The editing is also handled effectively well here with it not relying so much on cut every few seconds, and it can certainly lead to some really fun long takes that are showcased over the entire stage.
As much as I am kinda gushing on this flick, I will admit that I have some gripes here and there with it. As much as I appreciate the more intimate approach to showcasing the band in this form, it does feel a little off at times when we are not giving almost any attention to the audience until towards the end of the show. One could argue that the point of a concert film is to show the concert rather than looking at your average Joe getting high off the performances taking place, but I feel like having us be molded with the audience at times just enhances the experience more.
I feel like I would enjoy the film more if I was a more full blown Talking Heads fan, but even then, I still found this to be very enjoyable. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to delve deeper into the band's catalogue of work, only to have me come back and give this film a new fresh look. So while I may not be saying that Stop Making Sense is the best thing since canned bread right now, I'll still say it's pretty damn good.