There seems to be no end to the fascination of the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s. Especially when it comes to classic rock and especially when those musicians feel as familiar as childhood friends; unfortunately, there is an end to the exciting stories to be told and material to be mined.
The Quiet One isn’t a bad documentary on Bill Wyman, the bassists for The Rolling Stones from 1962 to 1993, or a bad documentary in general. It just suffers from arriving too late to the party to add much to a well-worn story.
There are some moments. Wyman, who married three times, assumes he was a sex addict because he wasn’t addicted to “drugs or wine.” Gotta have something, I suppose. Other stories include being able to play with his heroes (Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Junior Wells) or just being asked to play—one scene about an encounter with Ray Charles leaves an 80-year-old Wyman in tears.
It also helps that Wyman was the self-appointed cataloguer and historian of The Rolling Stones, collecting a seemingly endless array of home movie footage, photographs, concert swag, and audio recordings for a personal archive—which director Oliver Murphy uses as the movie’s storytelling device. But even a different angle on a familiar moment isn’t quite as illuminating as Murphy might hope. Major events are glossed over—like the murder of a concertgoer by the Hells Angels in 1969 at the Altamont Free Concert or Wyman’s second marriage, to Mandy Smith, whom he met when she was 13 and he 47—because Wyman doesn’t feel comfortable talking about them. Other moments, like the swinging-’60s, are reduced to a montage simply because neither Wyman nor Murphy has anything new to add.
The Quiet One is just that, a quiet, sometimes soft-spoken account about one of the loudest times in popular music. For a Rolling Stones completest, The Quiet One will do. For the rest, an hour and 38 minutes with the albums themselves would be time better spent.
The Quiet One (2019)
Written and directed by Oliver Murray
Produced by Jason Bick, Jamie Clark, Jennifer Corcoran
Sundance Selects, Not rated, Running time 98 minutes, Opens June 21, 2019.