Director: Roy Tighe
Cast: Richard Lett
Synopsis: Documentary following Canadian stand up comedian Richard Lett.
We love to watch whacked out weirdos on screen. Whether it be fictional, like one of Adam Sandler’s many characters, or real, like Joe Exotic in Tiger King, we love to see people who push the envelope a bit. There is a sense of novelty to it that many people don’t get to experience in their day to day life. A silent wonder in the fact that there are people who frankly just don’t give a fuck. There is also a sense of amazement in the fact that some of these people can go by completely unnoticed to the masses.
In Never Be Done: The Richard Glen Lett Story we get this amazement of someone who is the antagonist of everyone’s story, including their own. He is vile, rude, aggressive, mean, and worst of it all, he accepts that he is all of those things. He is only allowed in one venue to give his standup, and he even mentions in this movie that more comedians should want to be kicked out of venues. He is a villain, knows he is the villain, and wants to be the villain. He believes that it is his duty to “save” comedy and that it is the world’s problem for becoming too soft. He tells offensive jokes and argues with the people who come to see his shows. Sometimes to the point of tears.
He was at the mountain top of comedy at a time and decided that it wasn’t him who needed to change, but his audience instead. But this mountain top was not everlasting for Lett. He has reached the top and was being held up by his fans, but as he refused to change he began to lose the admiration of everyone that once loved him so much. Instead of being at his peak, he was thrown off it and fell harder than he ever could have imagined.
What is so great about this documentary is that it chronicles his continuous fall. We come into his life at just the perfect moment because over the course of the movie we see a man in serious pain and anguish falling deeper and deeper into the pits of despair. At times, you want to feel bad for him. You want to help him, and you hope that he gets out of this trench he has put himself in. But, with each word that comes out of his mouth, you are reminded of the vulgarity of the nature of his being. He truly believes his life is a joke, and he treats everyone around him like shit because to him it is all comedic.
It is when he finally realizes the joke he is trying to tell about his life is a tragedy and just isn’t funny to anyone. It is then, that he is able to build himself back up. He hit the lowest of lows. One of the most well-known and well-loved Canadian comedians was now homeless and penniless. He finally has come to grips with his disease and doesn’t want his life to continue to be the tragedy it was.
After being a villain for so long, Lett was finally able to come to grips with everything wrong with him. His addictions to drugs, alcohol, pissing people off, you name it. Also, his clear mania that came through years of trying to shut the world out. He was able to let go of all of this and gives hope in second chances. The joke he told at the end of the film was so emotionally powerful. A truthful and honest ugly look at life that brought me to tears. This movie is about Lett’s downfall, but there is something still hopeful about this film. Something that says even at the lowest of points, you can always pull yourself out. Richard Glen Lett didn’t deserve a second chance, but he managed to make the most of it, and his life became the comedy he always imagined.
The approach that director Roy Tighe took to this movie was something brilliant. He did not attempt to tell the story but allowed for it to play out in front of us. He took a step back as a documentarian and it allowed the movie to take massive steps forward. This came to fruition when later in the film Lett said “You caught stuff with that camera that even I couldn’t see”. That might be one of the best compliments I have ever seen a documentarian receive from their subject.
Final: Captivating and emotional, Never Be Done: The Richard Glen Lett Story takes us on an adventure from the highest of high down to the lowest of low. Richard Lett shows us what a real-life villain is, but also proves to us second chances are not always blown. Allowing the story to take place on its own, Roy Tighe does less to capture more, and the final product is an emotionally charged and brilliant documentary of someone I had no idea about. One of the best of the year.
AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE JUNE 16
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.