Mike Cuenca’s ‘I’ll Be Around’ (2020) Movie Review

I’ll admit, when I was first told about I’ll Be Around, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured it’d have some good music and that there would be some sort of big plot to follow throughout the whole film. What I actually found was much more nuanced.

I’ll Be Around is different than the typical film. Mike Cuenca’s (Oblivion: The Series) look at societal norms, social issues, and generational angst resonated with me in a way that not many films do. It also has some damn good music.

I’ll Be Around is described as a film taking place “against the backdrop of a post-punk music festival, dozens of struggling thirty-somethings deal with a wide variety of social and philosophical issues in their respective lives, from generational angst to premature ejaculation.” Featuring a cast including special appearances from J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr) and Frank Agnew (The Adolescents), there is a lot going on with this film. It was even difficult to remember all of the characters names at times. I’ll Be Around also features music from bands such as Echolust, Band Aparte and The Electric West.

I want to start off by focusing on the soundtrack. This is the real star of the show, and that makes sense for a movie focused around a music festival. I found myself nodding along with the various tunes laced throughout the film, and I almost caught myself wishing that some of these bands were real. As stated earlier, bands like Echolust, Band Aparte, and The Electric West make up the soundtrack and do a great job of conveying how this festival sounds. While this genre of music may not be for everyone, I found myself really digging it, and I am thrilled that I have new bands to add to my ever-growing Spotify playlist.

Even going beyond how good the music sounds, I’ll Be Around is a film made by obvious fans of the punk genre. You have bands like Attempted Choke who say they sound like Suicide, but can’t quite pull it off. Let’s be honest, no one really can emulate what Suicide does. Icons. References to iconic bands like X and The Replacements are littered throughout the film, along with posters for other bands like The Cure are noticeable in various rooms at the festival.

Moving on from how the music is in the film, let’s look at the characters. There are so many characters in I’ll Be Around, so I’m not going to go down the list and talk about each one, but there are some memorable ones I would like to discuss.

Someone like Eve Valentine stands out right away. She is very obviously struggling with where she’s at, and while I’m not a successful musician, I have struggled with dealing with expectations and what I should be doing with my life. I imagine that she’s a character a lot of people will be able to relate to. We all have expectations placed on us, and we all fail to meet them all in some way or another.

Sarah Lawrence did a phenomenal job of playing the struggling musician. Other characters were less relatable and forgettable, but it never felt like a chore to see how everyone was handling whatever situation they were in. I did have a good laugh seeing how similar some of the characters were to people I have actually encountered at various shows and festivals.

I’ll Be Around is surprisingly funny, as well. This isn’t necessarily a comedy, but rather a film that has great comedic timing. Whenever things felt like they were getting heavy, there was always something to break the tension and bring me back down to earth. I’m not going to go into details, but the fake ID scene, while brief, was very funny. This comedic timing allowed the characters all to feel real. They felt like people I have encountered, and the conversations they had all felt like real talks I’ve had with my friends. This is so important in movies. I can’t stand when I’m watching something, and the entire time, I feel so disconnected from what I’m seeing on screen. I want to feel like I know these characters; I want to feel like this can actually exist.

Overall, I’ll Be Around is an enjoyable two hour trip to a music festival that I swear I’ve been to three or four times. The music is phenomenal, and I can’t recommend that enough. The characters are relatable, and the comedy allows this film to become something real, something familiar. I definitely recommend checking out this whenever you’re able to, especially if you’ve been involved in any sort of music scene. Check out the trailer below and let us know what you think! Will you be checking out I’ll Be Around?

About Matt Stumpf

My name's Matt, and I love all things horror. Books, movies, video games; you name it, I like it. Martyrs is my favorite horror film, and everyone should watch it. I also have a soft-spot for those cheesy 80's slashers. I'm still slightly convinced that Faces of Death is real.

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