So yeah, before anything else, I'd say this: The folks who are complaining about "altered facts" don't seem to be facing the reality of what is necessrary to squeeze 30 years into 90 minutes while also making an absorbing and coherent film. If you know the story of John Denver, you won't have trouble tracking what is going on in this. As for the acting, I will admit that when I saw the first couple of "performances" and saw Denver bouncing around like he was at a rave, it bothered me quite a bit. So... you make allowances.
Having said all of that, I have known the story of John Denver for a long time. I was just learning the fun that radio could be when he was at the height of his popularity, and I remember sitting in a pretend fort listening to "Country Boy." I remember him losing his record contract, his DUI, and unfortunately, his death.
But these things evolved over years. And when you watch them in slow motion, as I did in real life, it doesn't have the same impact as it does when you watch it all unfold in roughly an hour. So I will say that even though I didn't learn anything, I think that the story that I already knew impacted me for the first time while watching this movie.
It is hard not to have a tear in your eye. Not for the events of the movie so much as for the realization that this incredible performer NEEDED the validation of others so much... and seemed oblivious to the fact that those around him thirsted for his validation as well.
Who among us, having dominated our profession (whatever it might be) for a decade (plus or minus) and having accumulated all of the wealth that you would need in a lifetime could not accept that you were going from a major player to a minor player, and simply use the time after that to enjoy life? By this movie's narrative, Denver spent so much time insisting that all he needed was nature and then spent his time pursuing expensive toys like planes and worldwide trips and the recognition of others? The disconnect here is not imagined. Because he is actually accused of the same in the film.
So someone told me that most highly-accomplished people are obsessive. It's the edge that is needed to "get over the hump." In a prior age that was not dominated by psychobabble, I guess we referred to this phenomenon as "genius."
Well, if that be the case, the "genius" of John Denver is undeniable and is very much on display in this film. And it is maddening.
Thank you for the music.