Based on Andy Summers’ memoir called “One Train Later,” “Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police” is a documentary that is less about The Police than it is about Andy Summers. That fact doesn’t make it less interesting for fans, but it might not be what you expect.
It’s a largely introspective look back at an extraordinary time in an extremely talented musician’s life, but if you’re looking for a lot of reminiscing about the band’s famous exploits, you won’t get it here. The film is still enjoyable, and I learned a lot about how Andy, Sting, and Stewart Copeland met, as well as details about the band’s breakup and Andy’s struggles to make a living as a musician throughout his 20’s.
Before the film, I was unaware that Summers is an accomplished photographer, and we see some of his work (including nudes) in the documentary. He says this about his lesser known creative outlet, “On tour, you become an automaton who knows how to play 15 songs very well, that’s it. There’s not much more to you than that. This is what happens on the long tours, and ours never ended. But I would be off away from the others, away from the band environment, doing photography, and I was completely in control of that. So I think that was sort of a cathartic thing for me, which came with the photography.”
The film intersperses archival footage of the band – both on stage and off – with footage of their reunion tour. But at less than 90 minutes total, there actually isn’t much time for concert film in “Can’t Stand Losing You.”
Interestingly, first-time director Andy Grieve, who is an experienced film editor, was not a big fan of the band before he made the film. He feels this allowed him to maintain an objective point of view of his subject. Perhaps it did, but with voiceovers from Summers, it feels more like the subject’s movie, guiding us through the story of his life. Luckily, it’s a decidedly interesting life, but I would have liked to hear more about the parties and the craziness that the band has eluded to in other interviews.
“Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police” opens in New York on Friday, March 20, 2015 and in Los Angeles on April 3, 2015.
Melanie Votaw is a New York City-based writer and author of 15 nonfiction books. She’s also a former actress who began performing at age 4 and now writes about film, television and theatre. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melanievotaw.
Photo of Sting from the film, by Andy Summers © Taschen