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Justice's New Documentary Premieres

A Cross The Universe shows at Koko before it arrives on DVD.

In the five years since “We Are Your Friends” won them a college radio station remix competition and a record deal with Ed Banger records, Justice have gone from little known remixers to idolised headlining act. On their second tour of the USA, they were accompanied by award-winning directors Romain Gavras and So_Me, who also made the multi-banned video for “Stress”, because they wanted to capture every moment, as “no-one believes you unless you’ve got someone filming 24/7”.

A Cross the Universe is a film about excitement. There’s the expected feverish excitement of the fans, and the adolescent excitement of suddenly successful and lionised young men, but the film is made by the strange peripheral characters that attach themselves to Justice. The tone of the film is set by the early shots – Xavier smirkingly stroking an anonymous guy’s leg, and their bizarre tour manager, Bouchon, ripping open a fairly bland box and unwrapping a pistol from the bubble wrap inside gives a sense of the amusing, surreal and slightly sinister that is to come.

Bouchon, particularly, provides all three in abundance. The camera lingers on him over and again as he cradles the gun in his hand, rarely letting it out of his sight. As the others stand smoking by the side of the road as their bus breaks down, Bouchon stalks the curb, armed and unblinking. Bouchon also manages to get himself arrested by carrying his “safety blanket” weapon into a restaurant. There’s blurry CCTV footage as police charge in and the band and entourage throw their hands in the air before Bouchon is marched away. Whilst these antics are harmless fun, as are his sessions at firing ranges with progressively bigger guns, there’s something a little Fagin-ish about his demands that Xavier and Gaspard “get the fuck on that stage!” even as Xavier bleeds from a wound he’s sustained on his hand after bottling a deranged fan.

It is characters such as Bouchon and the tour’s bus driver, whose all-American drawl produces some of the best moments on the film – “Ah’m goin’ for the record of lowest vocal tone. You have to move down progressively hittin’ every note on the way” – that stop this just being an ego-massage for two successful and excitable musicians. Xavier and Gaspard are enjoying themselves hugely, and their slightly dazed, befuddled expressions are, on occasion, priceless, but the enjoyment of their moments is corrupted by the arrogance that lurks behind a lot of their behaviour. There’s an overlong stretch of film which is merely chopped up video of young, blond, semi-naked girls dancing, followed by a cringe-worthy section with the Justice boys giggling as they throw vodka and matches at two particularly young looking cheerleader types who are already tripping over their own feet. The aforementioned bottling also shows a less savoury side to the two, as a spangled fan stumbles at Xavier with flailing arms and is duly dispatched with a shattered glass bottle over his head.

Credit should be given to the film makers as they unflinchingly record everything from set pieces with the Justice boys singing to Anthony Kiedis to those more painful moments and dull times by the side of the road. They capture the exhilaration of the swarming, buzzing crowds under the strobe lights and the sort of sweet affection that Xavier and Gaspard have for each other, and for the act. There’s something slightly ominous and possibly foreshadowing about the final shots as Gaspard, Xavier and Bouchon are driven away in a police car after the bottling. Of course, any thoughts of dark endings and wasted talent are banished as soon as the two take to their decks and do what they do best, and the viewer realises that without that hint of cockiness Justice wouldn’t be Justice.

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