Review by Sean Boelman
Richard Melville Hall, better known as Moby, is perhaps the single most influential electronic musician in history, so it is absolutely shocking that there aren’t more feature-length documentaries about him. Filmmaker Rob Gordon Bralver hopes to remedy this with Moby Doc, a portrait of the musician that is equal parts fun, touching, and timely.
The movie tells the story of electronic musician Moby as he fights various circumstances in his life to become one of the most influential electronic musicians of all time. The film does hit a lot of the beats of the musician biographical documentary, albeit in a way that is fittingly quirky given the personality and work of the subject.
Obviously, this movie caters primarily to an audience who is already familiar with Moby’s work and has an appreciation for his style. However, even those who are uninitiated will find themselves impressed by the man thanks to a combination of footage showing his great accomplishments and interviews from his peers hailing him for the master he is.
That said, one of the film’s weaknesses is that Moby is such an interesting person that it is nearly impossible to explore every aspect of his life in ninety minutes. As a result, some portions of the movie feel shallow. Moby has simply done so much great stuff that they couldn’t choose what to focus on.
If there is one thing missing from the film, it is an in-depth evaluation of Moby’s discography. While it’s clear that Bralver was more interested in making a documentary about Moby as a person rather than him as a musician, it would have been nice to hear some more behind-the-scenes stories about what went into some of Moby’s greatest hits.
Still, there is more to this documentary than just the music. Moby has always been very active as an animal rights activist, and that passion extends into this movie. There are multiple segments which follow him supporting various causes, many of which are important things that need to be discussed and can very much use his platform.
It is on a technical level that the film impresses the most. As a musician, Moby is known for his experimentation, so it is only fitting that this documentary about him equally plays around with conventions. There is a level of both beauty and energy to the documentary that goes a long way in making the movie work.
Moby Doc does a great job of representing the eponymous musician for the genius and activist that he is. Fans will be delighted by it as a lovely biography, but it can also serve as a great introduction for those who aren’t already familiar with his work.
Moby Doc hits theaters and VOD on May 28.