This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Paul Docherty’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Full disclosure: I edit documentaries for a living, so I come to this with an absurdly critical eye. But I don't think it's unreasonable to be aggravated by a movie that front-loads with Yoshiki's physical deterioration when there is no pay off at all at the end. It's not what the film is about. In fact that aspect of the story essentially evaporates after the first 30 minutes. Plus all that talk of death and suicide. I mean, clearly he doesn't kill himself. He's in the movie. There were so many better things to lead with, like his belief that he was cursed, for example.
And what about when they tease the thing with Toshi so hard early on and then ignore it? I spent the middle of the film wondering what the fuck was up with Toshi? Why doesn't he speak about that brainwashing allegation?? Of course that turns out to be the substance of the third act, and really an aspect of the story that _does_ pay off.
This could have been organized more effectively. I dislike the emphasis on the sensational at the top, and the schizophrenic video effects during the introduction of the band really don't help either. More time early in the story building relationships between band members, and between fans and the band, would have served the film better. We don't get to the core relationships until about half way through. Up until then the whole movie hangs on Yoshiki, so if you don't buy into him the movie's a wash. For most of the running time the film is less "We Are X" than "I Am X, And Then There Were These Other Guys Who Mostly Died Anyway".
But hey, the film screened at Sundance, and got US distribution, so what the hell do I know about it.
Worth checking out, regardless of what I think about it.