It’s hard to talk about Tim Kinsella without talking about his critics. Midway through this 2017 documentary, the endlessly prolific midwest emo hero is surrounded by pull quotes from reviews describing his music as “difficult,” “whiny,” and “unlistenable faux-art.” After 20-plus years leading his primary band Joan of Arc, does Kinsella deserve the scorn or remain misunderstood?
Your War (I'm One Of You) begins in the childhood home of brothers Tim and Mike Kinsella, tracing the tumultuous rise and fall of their teenage band, Cap’n Jazz. The film is heartrending in scenes describing guitarist Victor Virrareal’s close brush with death during an intense period of his addiction. His entry to rehab marked the start of Joan of Arc, and, with it, Kinsella’s stubborn belief that music for mass audiences always rings false.
With the testimony of admirers like Ryley Walker and Devendra Banhart, Your War makes the argument the critics have been getting it wrong. As the camera crew follows Kinsella to Tokyo in present day, he visits a clothing store opened by another superfan that shares his last name and uses Owls lyrics as slogans. Kinsella’s songs might not speak to everyone, but for those who love them, they mean more than even he could know.