Heartwarming, heartbreaking, humbling and uplifting; these are not exactly the words I expected to use when describing Sacha Gervasi's 2008 documentary Anvil: The Story of Anvil, an intimate portrait of the core members (now in their 50s) of a long-lived but commercially unsuccessful heavy metal band… And I certainly didn't expect to cry; but cry I did, profusely enough that I couldn't even pretend that there was something in my eye.
If you ever want a portrait of perseverance and inexhaustible optimism, you needn't look further than Lips Kudlow, the band's lead singer, who, along with his lifelong friend drummer Robb Reiner, have stayed together to play in small clubs, go on ramshackle European tours, and work full time at blue collar dead end jobs to make ends meet.
Comparisons to Spinal Tap are inevitable, but these are real people in real situations. Once metal gods, Anvil inspired numerous mega bands like Guns 'N Roses, Anthrax, and Slayer but, unlike those bands who all went on to make millions, Lips and Robb struggle to live the dream daily. While it's sad at times, it's an overwhelmingly affectionate portrait that doesn't judge, poke fun, or humiliate.
If you want to feel the power of Metal on Metal and the triumph of the human spirit, watch it!