George Harrison, ‘Living in the Material World,’ Part Two – Movie Review
There were certainly compelling moments spread throughout this part of the film, but just as often, various storylines would be picked up and dropped without the viewer gaining any deeper sense of understanding about Harrison. Sometimes, a newcomer to the Beatles story (and granted, that's not the target audience here) wouldn't even know what ended up happening with each event.
For example, they go into some very personal detail about the Harrison / Eric Clapton / Pattie Boyd love triangle for a few minutes, but they leave the story with Boyd supposedly going back home with her husband Harrison, which, as we know, is not how things ended. (This final resolution is mentioned in passing quite a while later in the film.)
The biggest weakness of the movie seems to be the narrators Scorsese trusted to tell his story. Their version of events are interesting to a point, but when charismatic talkers like Ringo Starr or Tom Petty show up to share their insights, it's evident what's been missing from the rest of the documentary.
Petty is hysterical as he recounts a tale of the time Harrison decided to spend an entire day introducing him to the ukelele, eventually leaving five of the rarely used instruments (and a sore-armed Petty) behind, "just in case."
Similarly, video footage of Starr deflating rumors of his former bandmate's non-social behavior on some joint TV appearance, and the laughs he gets out of Harrison by way of a story of George suing him for re-mixing a song they worked on together, humanizes his friend in a way most of the rest of the film fails to do.
Interesting insights are presented on many of the big events of Harrison's post-Fab Four life -- he was nervous about releasing 'My Sweet Lord' as a single from his first solo album, John Lennon's murder angered him partially because he thought the state of one's body at the moment of death was a sacred thing -- but too often the movie wanders from place to place without any underlying sense of meaning.
Overall, the film is still a very pleasant way to re-visit the life of the former Beatle, and perhaps it's too much to expect any major new revelations or perspectives on one of the most watched and analyzed musicians in modern history. Still, the second half of 'Living in the Material World' did seem to be a bit of an unfocused letdown, especially given the talent level and resources of the people involved in its creation.