Inevitably I will use the word ‘human’ in this review, not only because it rhymes with ‘Numan’, but for the accuracy in which it perfectly describes the man born Gary Webb.
Since he established himself as The Dark Lord Of The Synth with the release of his 1979 debut long-play The Pleasure Principle, his schtick has been a public persona that is one part theatrical purposefulness and one part behaviour as a direct result of his Asperger Syndrome. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Numan hid himself away from any social interaction, destined to a lonely life of solitude surrounded by machines. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The most surprising aspect of Gary Numan: Android in La La Land, the profiling documentary movie charting his relocation from England to America amidst the recording of twentieth album, Splinter, is just how at ease Numan is with himself and his family.
Here he can be seen talking to other beings, interacting with children, sorting out his washing, collaborating with band mates and meet n’ greeting fans. He even goes on a road trip holiday. It’s as if the world has gone topsy turvy. This isn’t the cold Numan the press depict. This is the android unplugged.
Filmmakers Steve Read and Rob Alexander are deftly skilled at integrating themselves into the Numan’s home life, so much so that his three children, Raven, Persia and Echo, are wonderfully at ease in front of the lens, proclaiming “He just sings… He doesn’t go out to work” and one even gives her own lullaby style rendition of ‘Cars’.
Elsewhere, wife Gemma (a fan girl living out her ultimate Smash Hits fantasy) is a kind of warmer Katie Price type, whose dedication to his cause is glorious; it is their dynamic and chemistry that is the beating heart of the doc and Read/Alexander easily capture it without judgement. If fact, the tone of the film sits on neither side of the fence. This is just about watching and allowing the players to be themselves, resulting in as true a depiction as could be hoped for when there is a film-crew in the room.
All the talk of his own depression, anxiety, near bankruptcy and IVF troubles doesn’t render Numan an outcast, it reveals him to be a true human being. (Told you).