Review by Robert Trate
Documentaries are always hard things to watch, let alone review. You have to have a vested interest in the subject matter, or else why are you watching it? If you aren’t a fan of the rock band, The Police or music in general, then Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police will not be for you. Thankfully, for me, The Police is my favorite band.
There have been numerous documentaries and behind the scenes specials on the legendary rock group. Countless interviews that feature now iconic squabbles between front man and bassist, Sting, pitted against drummer, Stewart Copeland, are well known. With their introduction into the their farewell tour, we were inundated with The Police. Yet, what is the story of the other guy, Andy Summers? Usually stuck in the middle between two egotists fighting for control, Summers’ story, to this fan, remains a mystery. But no longer.
Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police opens in June of 2007 and parallels a New Years Eve concert in 1983. The Police’s “Secret Journey” lets us know exactly what we are in store for. So when both concerts end and The Police go their separate ways, we don’t follow Sting or Stewart out into the night. We follow Andy on what his journey was and how he got there. We learn about Summers’ history, where he came from, what bands he played in, and how he met the different members of The Police. He was so close to becoming famous when he was in The Animals (and even rumored to be the new guitarist for The Rolling Stones), that you have to feel his frustration. Summers, who narrates the documentary, is honest about his life choices and all that happened to him. It’s not the best voice-over to tell a story, but it makes it all the more personal and fitting as the film is based on his book, “One Train Later”, a metaphor for when Rock ‘n’ Roll fame would actually find him.
If you are not a fan of The Police and have stumbled across this film, there is still a subtle hook to Summers’ story. He allows us into his personal life and when he met the woman he refers to as the “one”, Kate, the love of his life and the woman he would marry. We see old film of Kate and their daughter, Lola, in the early days of his career. Yet, in the present, no family or Kate is present. A very subtle way to keep us asking if Summers found happiness with his Rock ‘n’ Roll fame.
As with any history about a band, events are wrapped around album releases and tour dates. We witness three guys go from London darlings to being spit on by the punks of the day. They then journey to America and tour the country flying the flag of punk, but unlike their UK counterparts, they can actually play and know how to work the media. They also discover that, as a band, they want to produce their own albums and not answer to anyone else. This control over their music becomes essential, but control is the one thing that The Police are notorious for fighting over.
As the band gets bigger and bigger, they grow apart as friends. Summers, who’s personal life takes a turn for the worse, finds solace in taking pictures of his life on the road. The man who couldn’t breathe without his guitar, now can’t live without his camera. This aspect of his life is evident in the pictures he takes, supplying a great final act to the story. However, it is the outcome of his personal life that we all end up wanting to know about. This isn’t a story about The Police and why they didn’t make another album. It’s the story of how Andy Summers survived it all and found happiness in rock ‘n’ roll fame.