Think about you’re watching one man give an affidavit about how he survived a aircraft crash, one which occurred to be one of many largest tragedies in rock ’n’ roll historical past. The small print are unbelievable: they had been the one who talked sense to the bumbling pilots; they held the hand of singer Ronnie Van Zandt proper earlier than the crash; they pulled themselves out of the wreckage and ran for assist. Whereas watching this account, some historic reenactments are thrown in, in case you wanted visible emphasis on what a rock ‘n’ roll gig appears like, or a reminder on ’70s hairstyles.
Now think about the reverse of that—additionally an honorable method, initially—during which you’re primarily watching a dramatization of all these occasions, with the true man chiming in so hardly ever about his story that he largely registers as an endorsement. However right here, there’s little story, and it isn’t in regards to the songs, simply the struggling. That’s the surreal expertise of making an attempt to get by way of “Avenue Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Aircraft Crash,” which seems like viewing solely the dramatic reenactment elements of a much more attention-grabbing documentary, and being left with a film that would simply be categorized as aircraft crash-sploitation.
Written and directed by Jared Cohn, “Avenue Survivors” is in regards to the first-person expertise of drummer Artimus Pyle (performed right here by Ian Shultis), who was with the band from 1974 till the crash in 1977, and in a while from 1987 to 1991. Instead of Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, it fills this gritless cinematic model of Pyle’s world with blips of story and tons of rock and roll ambiance—quite a few unintelligible scenes of individuals partying and yelling. Ronnie Van Zandt (Taylor Clift) is painted as a Accomplice Christ, and is proven beating up a man for harassing a girl in a single second, after which forcefully ripping off one other lady’s high proper after. In the meantime there’s Artimus, the devoted, centered, and proficient disciple that rock ’n’ roll historical past forgot, regardless of his central involvement within the crash on 1977, which killed six folks on board, together with Van Zandt.
Simply as a lot as author/director Jared Cohn believes in him, he’s reverential to him—it presents him in narrative or documentary type as all the time the proper man, a hero ready for the decision. And it ends with him being proven at trendy instances, rockin’ the equipment throughout a small live performance, and adored by followers. The narrative takes Shultis’ model of Pyle from the day he will get employed by Lynyrd Skynyrd, to the second he walks out of the hospital in gradual movement, with barely an emotionally grounded passage in between. Because it focuses very a lot on the aircraft crash, this isn’t a biopic about Pyle’s time within the band, coping with this trauma after, or how such an expertise may need formed him and others.
As a substitute, “Avenue Survivors” is fixated on merely reenacting Pyle’s traumatic reminiscence, together with the bodily ache of everybody on board. It brings to thoughts how director Peter Berg approaches his personal assessments of historic bodily endurance, “Lone Survivor” particularly, during which the core drama is in seeing how a lot the characters can take, even when we all know who makes it out alive. On this case, it is watching Pyle’s broadly-drawn bandmates smash their heads into issues in gradual movement because the aircraft crashes right into a forest, or watching them scream in agony, lined in blood whereas Pyle tries to tug out tree elements which have impaled them. However “Avenue Survivors” flunks out of Berg’s college of depicting a gnarly true tragedy, because it’s all exposition and little or no tact, particularly with its shameless dialogue which could peak at “My aircraft simply crashed and also you shot me!”
Cohn fought for a very long time within the courts to inform Pyle’s story. However whereas it is clear that he cares about this private angle on this occasion, the method is means off. “Avenue Survivors” turns into tone-deaf, particularly whenever you understand you are miles away from studying something about Lynyrd Skynyrd, except for how a few of them may need died.