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#TIFF19 Review: Western Stars (Gala Presentations)

September 14, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

Bruce Springsteen’s latest album, Western Stars, is an introspective, often bittersweet concept album of sorts that tells the story of a fading Western movie star, and finds the iconic American rocker branching out to country music and performing with a thirty piece orchestra. Not intending to go on tour with it, Springsteen only performed the album live once in front of a private audience, holding the invite-only concert in an old barn on his farm property in New Jersey.

This concert is beautifully captured by cinematographer Joe Desalvo in the film Western Stars, which is co-directed by Springsteen and filmmaker Thom Zimny, who is no stranger to music documentaries and previously directed the musician in Springsteen on Broadway. Together they have crafted an excellent concert film that heightens our appreciation of Springsteen’s latest album, and serves as a soaring companion piece to one of his most intimate works.

The album’s thirteen tracks are beautifully performed by Springsteen in the film, sometimes joined by his wife Patti Scialfa doing backup vocals, and the musical numbers are complimented by introspective interludes with the artist reflecting upon his life and how much of his work is infused with ideas about the American Dream. Watching Western Stars is a wonderful and at times moving experience, and it’s a must see for Springsteen fans.

Bruce Springsteen in Western Stars

Public Screenings:

Thursday, September 12th – 9:30 PM at Roy Thomson Hall

Friday, September 13th – 11:00 AM at Winter Garden Theatre

Saturday, September 14th – 8:45 PM at Scotiabank Theatre

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