Kings Of Leon Bare All in 'Talihina Sky': Family, Dysfunction, And Music

The much anticipated Kings of Leon documentary is here - with more footage to be released November 1st.
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Kings of Leon - Talihina Sky Documentary Review; DVD Nov 1

The timing couldn't have been more or less perfect for a Kings of Leon documentary. The band canceled a series of US concert dates amid reports of internal fighting and alcoholism and just as things seemed to be falling apart, KoL release a documentary bringing the world inside the sea of turmoil and triumph.

As we’ve previously reported, Talihina Sky premiered on Showtime August 21st. Now that I’ve had the chance to watch the movie a few times, let’s talk about it.

First, I’ll confess to not really being a KoL fan. I’m really just around for the drama (I’m also not a Brett Michaels fan but will watch Rock of Love all day for the same reason). That said I have a lot of respect for the band for even putting out the documentary. It’s a very honest look into a band that has a pretty significant amount of dysfunction going on. I’m sure most bands have discord (Fleetwood Mac anyone?) but most don’t give us a front row seat to watch it.

For me there were moments when the dysfunction almost made the movie uncomfortable to watch. The scene that comes to mind is Nathan (holding the video camera) yelling at Caleb and saying “You don't realize – you get drunk and you talk shit to everybody who makes you who you are. You're a piece of shit and your band cannot fucking stand you!” Even though I’d read the quote before seeing the movie and knew it was coming, it still made me cringe to actually hear it.

The KoL documentary also gives us insight into the Followill family – including the eccentric Uncle Cleo who stole the show. The boy’s religious upbringing traveling with their evangelical preacher father as he led revivals around the country is also covered. There are moments in the movie when their religious background is easy to spot – like Caleb saying a prayer for his wife as she boards a plane. But those moments are counteracted by scenes of drug use, excessive drinking, and more Followill fighting.

Another scene that sticks out is Caleb talking about how poor the family was growing up. He mentions having two pair of pants – which he shared with his brother Nathan. You can see the gloom on his face when he talks about this, sharing that the boys would swap pants and hope that other children didn’t notice. One can’t help but wonder if the dichotomy of poverty stricken children turned millionaire musicians has anything to do with the dysfunction happening within the band.

Am I the only one who found it strange that the Followill boys call their mom “Betty Anne” instead of Mom? Am I the only one questioning the bangs/mullet haircut and mustache Caleb has in several scenes? For a moment I thought I was watching a documentary on the 70s band Boston. And then there’s the very old video of a young Caleb and Nathan singing at church. Again, I have to give them props for sharing that with the world. It takes a lot of guts to put your teenage chorus videos out there for the world to see.

For first time director (and Followill family friend) Stephen C. Mitchell the movie is a homerun. It’s beautiful to watch and balances the elements of family, dysfunction, and music well – not giving the viewer too much of any one of them. The movie also manages, despite the dysfunction, to show the band in a light that is overall favorable.

KoL fans can soon see even more of the band, as they recently announced that Talihina Sky will be released on DVD and iTunes on November 1st. This will come with an additional 45 minutes of bonus features including additional scenes not included in the film, commentaries from the Followills, and some more sweet home-movie footage. More Followill drama - yes please!

 As we wait for the new footage, I’ll leave you with an interview about the movie with Matthew and Jared Followill. Interesting that frontman Caleb has been noticeably absent from any press for the movie. After his meltdown in Dallas last month he seems to be keeping a low profile. Hopefully all of the guys are taking their time off to help them regroup and return stronger than ever. What are your thoughts on Talihina Sky?