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Blur ‘To The End’ review: a heartfelt and often hilarious look at their renuion

This intimate, revealing look at Blur's reunion is a must-watch for fans of the Britpop icons

4.0 rating

By Anna Smith

Blur in To The End

From vulnerable moments to highs on stage in front of 150,000 fans, To The End shows Blur in the momentous year that was 2023. Following Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree as they record The Ballad of Darren and later perform at Wembley, it’s an intimate look at a comeback for the ages.

An early scene sees Alex arriving to visit Damon in his very big house in the country, an irony not lost on any of them. As the bandmates go for a pint by the sea, there’s a flavour of Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing – two old mates enjoying life’s simple pleasures, maybe having a good-natured grumble. It’s an amusing contrast to the band’s 90s persona, and there’s a healthy sense of deadpan, dry humour running throughout the doc directed by Toby L. One scene sees a workaholic Albarn resting his eyes on the studio desk after an exhausting Coachella, while another sees Graham wince as he recalls relieving himself in a half empty can of Diet Coke moments before Blur were due on stage at Wembley Stadium.

There’s a near Spinal Tap moment too when Damon and Graham visit their old school, where the headmaster proudly shows them a studio room dedicated to them. They’re visibly touched, but suggest adding a bit of creative character to the room – cut to a brilliant concerned reaction from the teacher when Damon proposes a bowl of weed.

This scene also uses previously unseen footage of the pair’s first band in school, Real Lives. As the two reminisce, the focus remains on the brotherly affection – and sometimes tension – between them and all the band members, a contrast they believe has contributed to their creativity. It’s interesting to see the dynamic when the group break off into pairs, but it’s also fascinating when they are in the studio together, Alex puffing on cigarettes and Damon even crying at one point, something Alex admits he misread at the time. Solo chats with these two are perhaps the most revealing, but the filmmakers don’t appear to press them on the darker topics, simply documenting what they choose to share. We see Alex suffering from several hangovers on tour, bringing up past binges that clearly still linger with the band, some of whom now don’t drink at all.

As for the early days, there’s more unseen footage from the 90s, cut from an abandoned doc, and enjoyable reminiscences about the casting of Phil Daniels for the iconic Parklife. But it’s the modern gigs that prove the most revealing, not just because of the band, but their fans. Teens and 20-somethings queue up excitedly, one young woman astutely observing how they make upbeat songs about depression. 

Like Blur’s music, this film is honest about the realities of ageing, loneliness and broken dreams – regardless of your fame and fortune. But it also ends on a fantastic, fun high at Wembley, where Albarn emerges reborn – and which will be the subject of a two-hour concert film later this year.