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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Cindy Prascik's Review of If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd

Today I was fortunate to catch If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd, on Showtime.

If I Leave Here Tomorrow is a loving but unflinching look at the band Lynyrd Skynyrd.

This film documents well known events, so kindly expect "spoilers" if you are unfamiliar with Lynyrd Skynyrd's story.

If I Leave Here Tomorrow focuses on the band's humble beginnings on the wrong side of the tracks in Jacksonville, Florida, through its mid- to late-70s heyday, but beginning, middle, and end are touched by the tragic 1977 plane crash that claimed the lives of six people, including three band members.

If I Leave Here Tomorrow blends new and old interviews with terrific photos, video clips, newsreel footage, and excerpts from what appear to be home videos. How lucky we are that someone captured so much in an era long before everyone had a video camera in their pockets! The movie plays to a backdrop of both better- and lesser-known Skynyrd tunes.

Filmmakers and band members alike clearly revere founding lead singer and songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, but that doesn't stop the movie from touching on his violent darker side. Still, it's clear to this day that Skynyrd members new and old feel Van Zant's vision as the driving force behind the band.

Band members prove to be mostly good interviews, telling entertaining stories of hard-working early years and the debauchery that fame brought. More than a couple of their remarks may surprise those who take the band only at face value. Harrowing first-person accounts of the plane crash are almost certain to bring the hardest-hearted viewer to tears. Today, when such hard lines strive to define and divide us, it's fantastic to watch this band of hippie-hillbilly-bluesmen erase all such barriers.

If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd clocks in at 95 minutes and is rated TV14. (There's some rough language and a good bit of drinking and drug use.)

If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd is a story told with love, but it does not tiptoe around the band's less-flattering moments. It's a well-crafted picture that truly does these legendary artists justice. Of a possible nine Weasleys, If I Leave Here Tomorrow gets nine.

If I Leave Here Tomorrow is currently running on Showtime's family of networks, and is available on Showtime On Demand and Showtime Anytime. 40+ years and many hard losses since the plane crash of 1977, Lynyrd Skynyrd is in the midst of what it is calling its "farewell" tour, slated to wrap up in September.

Fangirl points: I've met a lot of people, specifically a lot of famous people, specifically-specifically a lot of famous musicians, and Johnny Van Zant is one of the nicest people I have ever met!

Until next time...

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