May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers is more than just an hour and a half incite into the lives of brothers Seth and Scott Avett.
It is an intimate, detailed, painted collage of their values, family dynamic and their love that’s as strong for each other as it is for their music. It’s no wonder that when legendary music producer Rick Rubin approached filmmakers Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio to document their demo, that they jumped right on board.
May It Last covers over two years of the Grammy-nominated artist’s lives as they record their latest album, True Sadness. The film pulls clips of home movies and fan footage to project one overarching theme: that family is everything. One of the things that stood out the most from the documentary, was that the term “family” is much more flexible than we often give it credit for. While yes, Seth and Scott Avett are in fact related by blood, that never stood in the way of them opening up their brotherhood and familial love to band members Joe Kwon, Bob Crawford and Tania Elizabeth as well.
It becomes clear throughout the film that their music is simply an extension of their beings and their love for one another. Whether it’s chopping wood with their dad or cooking breakfast and running around with their kids, the creative process never seems to halt. All members of the band live as authentically as possible and out of their hardships, anxieties and pivotal moments is born an artistic masterpiece.
There’s a tender moment partway through the film when Seth and Scott finish recording “No Hard Feelings” and sit in pure silence outside, with the Malibu sun setting in the background. The two ruminate over the paradox of being rewarded and praised for creating something born out of tragedy. Neither Seth nor Scott seemed to have an answer for this pressing question at the time, but their vulnerability and genuine devotion to their art was clearest then more than ever.
This predicament and their love for one another was exemplified even further towards the end of the film when their bassist Bob Crawford revealed that in 2011, his daughter, Hallie, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. This raw, beautiful sequence reflected on how at every point throughout Hallie’s hospitalization, a member of the band was waiting outside her room. Hallie survived after undergoing treatment for several years, and Seth was the first to admit that despite the immense hardship and struggle within the circumstances at hand, there was a strong beauty that sprouted out of those trying times. The strengthened bonds and immense support radiated so much positivity, that it was impossible to ignore.
The heart-warming connections between the band members and the brothers sets a charming tone throughout the entire documentary. Apatow and Bonfiglio artfully crafted The Avett Brothers’ journey of piecing their album, True Sadness in a tasteful, truthful way that provides an insight into how their musical journeys are synonymous with their personal ones.
May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers premieres on HBO this Monday, January 29th at 8 pm.