Plot: This documentary chronicles a tour of the United States by punk rockers the Sex Pistols, who were at the forefront of the punk movement that stirred up controversy all over the world. The piece also explores the punk scene as a whole, with interviews with fans and critics, behind the scenes footage of the musicians, and live performances from some of the concerts. A lot of people have tried to capture the spirit of the punk rock scene, but D.O.A. takes you inside the movement as it unfolds, so there is a sense of kinetic immediacy here. The piece has obvious affection toward the punk scene, but presents a balance of critical responses as well, so this is an interesting, in the moment look at this explosive period in time.
Entertainment Value: I appreciate D.O.A. greatly, as it offers such an immediate, in the moment look inside punk rock culture, with the kind of access most documentaries could only dream of. This includes rare interviews with Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, which might not have a lot of direct dialogue, but convey a strong, lasting impression of the famous couple. The film also allows fans and critics alike to provide their thoughts, which leads to some interesting and varied takes on punk, as well as some colorful interview moments. I do think it helps if you have a basic knowledge of the punk rock scene, as the movie doesn’t spend time on backstories or set up, but it isn’t required to appreciate the piece. You can pick up what you need as the movie progresses, though of course, punk fans will likely appreciate this more than others.
I also love that D.O.A. isn’t just a look inside the punk culture, but it feels like a piece of punk culture itself. The documentary has a rough, unpolished texture that feels like a perfect canvas to paint this punk narrative onto, complete with an anti-establishment vibe that permeates the piece. I do think the movie offers some balance in how punk is presented, but you can tell there is an affection and a lot of passion from those who produced the picture. The loose structure is likely to throw some viewers off, as most documentaries have taken a more narrative approach of late, but I think the flow is there and D.O.A. always holds interest. I wouldn’t have minded more interviews, but the emphasis on live musical performances and behind the scenes footage adds so much, it is hard to complain. If you’re a fan of punk rock, the creative process of music, or documentaries, give this one a look.