Avett Brothers, the folk-rock pride of Concord, continues rolling out their documentary “May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers” with a one-night-only showing on Tuesday, Sept. 12 in theaters nationwide – including five theaters in the Triangle.
Eventually, it will make its way to HBO, with early 2018 as a target broadcast date, according to Variety.
But if you go tonight, here are our three takeaways:
1. Judd Apatow actually can do serious.
Best-known for “Bridesmaids,” “Knocked Up” and other raunch-comedies, Judd Apatow seems an odd choice to co-direct a straightforward and mostly non-comedic documentary. But Apatow is a major Avetts fan (he set the closing credits of 2012’s “This Is Us” to their song “Live and Die”), and “May It Last” is a serious-minded look behind the curtain at brothers Scott and Seth Avett.
“It wound up being a wonderful profile of this moment in the Avetts’ lives,” Apatow said in an interview before the film’s festival opening this past spring. “The world is a very cynical place filled with snark, so I appreciate their sincerity and humanity.”
2. The Avett Brothers circle is willing to reveal more than most.
Ostensibly, “May It Last” follows the making of the Avetts’ 2016 album “True Sadness,” with ample live footage and historical background. But Apatow and co-director Michael Bonfiglio filmed the band over two and a half years, during which Scott and Seth both had children, cellist Joe Kwon got married and bassist Rob Crawford’s young daughter was recovering from brain-tumor treatments – all of which is in the film.
This period also fell in the aftermath of the breakup of Seth’s marriage (he subsequently married actress Jennifer Carpenter), which found its way into song on the “True Sadness” album. At one point in “May It Last,” Seth talks about his divorce with remarkable candor.
“We’d spent a lot of time together and established some trust by the time I asked him about that on-camera,” Bonfiglio said. “It was not our goal to get into anything salacious, but that was a part of his life that obviously surfaced in ‘Divorce Separation Blues.’ By the time I asked him about it, he was ready.”
3. Creativity ain’t effortless.
Perhaps the most strikingly true-to-life scene in “May It Last” comes toward the end, immediately after the band records the “True Sadness” ballad “No Hard Feelings.” After everyone in the studio congratulates Scott and Seth on a beautiful song, Scott responds by walking outside and throwing an anguished fit — fretting that he feels like he’s losing the art-versus-business battle.
“On a balanced, healthy day, I embrace the need for both,” said Scott Avett. “I like the competitive aspect of the business side, and I love the creative side. But moments like that, where I’m just exhausted because we’ve been driving driving driving, working on every song a bunch of times, there’s a focus and a letting-go, especially on a tune like that. It just peels back everything to where I’m completely vulnerable and all is revealed.
“When we got to screen the first edit of the film, I knew that was an intense moment and I was thinking, ‘I hope that’s not in there,’” he added. “I saw that and kind of wanted to apologize to everyone. But I get it. That had to be in there.”
Want to see it?
▪ “May It Last” shows Sept. 12 at Regal Brier Creek 14 and Regal North Hills Stadium in Raleigh, Garner’s Regal White Oak Stadium 14, Cary’s Regal Crossroads Stadium 20 and Chapel Hill’s Silverspot Cinema. See avettbrothersfilm.com for showtimes.