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Review: Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, with Dave Letterman (Disney+)

March 16, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

Directed by documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?), Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, with Dave Letterman is a very enjoyable mix of music documentary, concert film, and docu-special that finds Letterman interviewing U2’s lead singer Bono and guitarist The Edge.

Neville follows Letterman as he tours Dublin, Ireland for the first time, catching up with Bono and The Edge as they are in the process of reworking old songs, and performing these stripped down acoustic versions in front of an intimate crowd at the Ambassador Theatre in Dublin.

Footage from this concert provides the through-line of A Sort of Homecoming, though the real joy of the piece comes from the way Letterman approaches both his subjects and surroundings with good-natured curiosity, as he embarks on a sort of travelogue. In some ways, it works best as a hangout film; some of the most enjoyable moments are when Letterman and the musicians are simply hanging out in an Irish pub for an impromptu song session (Dermot Kennedy also makes an appearance).

Neville does a good job of balancing these joyful moments with more introspective ones, as they reflect on the history of the country, their origins as a band, and how they fused a religious worldview with rock music. Letterman also interviews fellow Irish musician Glen Hansard, producer Jimmy Iovine, and, in one of the film’s best interludes, drag queen Panti Bliss, who talks about the history of LGBTQ rights in Ireland, which was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage through popular vote.

Timed to coincide with the recent release of Bono’s memoir Surrender, what emerges is an engaging portrait of how the band – and their country – has evolved over the years. As a documentary, it might not probe as deep as some might have wanted. But it’s in the little moments, such as The Edge playing the riff from “Where the Streets Have No Name” for Letterman in the studio (which leads into a story about them performing it at the Super Bowl Halftime Show six months after 9/11), or the duo unveiling the work-in-progress song they have written for Letterman as a gift, that A Sort of Homecoming finds its magic. It’s a wonderful portrait of U2 and Dublin itself.

Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, with Dave Letterman will be available to stream exclusively on Disney+ as of March 17th.

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