SUNDANCE REVIEW – “Meet Me in the Bathroom”
In what is a must-see for anyone who is a fan of 90s/early 2000s rock music, Meet Me in the Bathroom is a documentary from directors Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern that depicts the importance of the rock scene in New York in the late 90s and early 2000s, and the cultural shift that happened for the scene after 9/11 took place. The film is mostly an archival documentary that is less about interviewing people now about their opinions and stories on the retrospective of what occurred way back when, but ultimately tells a story in real time with archival footage and puts you in the moment as this cultural shift was happening for a lot of the bands that you know and love.
The film primarily follows Paul Banks, who is the lead singer of the band Interpol. We see his struggles to put Interpol on any form of popularity and going through the trials and tribulations of making your art seen/heard. A lot of Paul’s attempts at getting his work out there is juxtaposed with other bands that were thriving during this cultural shift. There’s a primary focus on The Strokes throughout this entire documentary – about their rise to fame and an intimate look inside at how the members felt about becoming something of an overnight sensation for rock fans at a truly trying time.
One of my favorite elements of the film is when it dives into the story of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but most specifically its lead singer Karen O. I’ve always been a fan of Karen, but admittedly haven’t read or listened to many interviews about her talking about her experience as a woman in the rock industry. This documentary provides some really interesting insight into the sexism that she battled while just trying to produce music that she thought her fans would like to hear. I also really enjoyed seeing her dueling personalities – the Karen O behind closed doors who is shy and anxious about her fame, but also the Karen O who always knew how to work a crowd and give an incredible show at her concerts. It’s truly fascinating to see!
The film is a bit all over the place in terms of structure and the different bands that it follows. If I had to have one critique of the film, I think it could’ve benefitted from a tighter focus on both the bands they cover and the importance of the shift in the rock scene post-9/11. However, if you have any sort of interest in these people and also this era of rock n’ roll, I really do recommend checking this documentary out as it gave me insight to people I’ve loved for most of my life. Even though it’s a bit narratively messy at times, it’s nonetheless fascinating and highly entertaining to watch as a time capsule.