Courtney Barnett Tells Us How She Really Feels in Film ‘Anonymous Club’

Courtney Barnett - Courtesy

Anonymous Club


On a recent Friday night, Brain Dead Studios theater screened a new documentary called Anonymous Club about Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett, which features the artist providing a kind of running diary during her world tour in support of the album Tell Me How You Really Feel.

Barnett is notoriously shy, so this cinematic document is likely as close as we’ll ever get to an intimate view of the talented performer’s personal life. And this close-up view delivers exactly what it promises – for better or worse.

Early on, in fact, it feels a little too close and intimate for comfort. Charting the beginning of her tour, Barnett is filmed in 16 mm talking about her depressed feelings. You may be tempted to look away, but you can’t. She readily admits to feeling worthless and uninspired.

It’s tough, however, to reconcile scenes where she is obviously wowing audiences in concert, with those where she is pictured as a woebegone and lonely hotel dweller. You almost want to talk back to the screen and ask, ‘But what about all of your artistic accomplishments?’ Of course, we all realize depression oftentimes doesn’t make logical sense. It strikes and hurts people who are seemingly on top of the world, like Barnett, and no amount of success can squelch it.

The last part of the movie chronicles Barnett’s solo tour. Although performing all alone is a scary prospect at first, it ultimately appears to energize Barnett. She begins to smile and laugh more, and even experiences a creative surge, which leads to writing and recording new songs. If the first section of this movie — with its harsh interior view — tests your endurance, just know that it gets better later.

It’s highly likely you’ve never seen your favorite musician ironing, vacuuming and even washing dishes, but Barnett is revealed to be quite the domesticated artist while accomplishing all these housework tasks during the documentary. Elsewhere, one of the live sequences features Barnett singing Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” which makes us really want Barnett to record a country music album.

You’ll probably walk away from this film believing Courtney Barnett is a lot like you and me in many ways. Yes, even though she is a smart and talented singer, songwriter and guitarist, she can also feel very depressed — seemingly for no good reason. Her best songs many times grapple honestly with bad feelings, and this memorable documentary mirrors her latest album’s title (Tell Me How Your Really Feel) by showing us exactly how she’s truly feeling, in various and diverse situations.