Honestly? I’d much rather see a smart, sexy, well-layered, in-depth documentary about the late Lou Reed than a doc about the Velvet Underground. Because all my life I’ve had to deal with John Cale‘s jagged, screechy-ass electric violin, and while I know (and respect the fact) that Cale’s tonally abrasive playing was an essential component in the Velvet Underground sound, it always bothered me regardless.

Telepathic HE to Cale while listening to “Venus in Furs”: “Yeah, I get it, man…you’re a brilliant string-saw, an avant garde musician who’s moved past the tired milquetoast game of trying to comfort or ear-massage your listeners…but every now and then I wish I could shut you up, no offense.”

I loved the Velvets because of Reed and Nico and most of the songs, but I liked Reed a lot more when he was free of Calescreech and began cutting his own albums with David Bowie, Mick Ronson and his own musicians — Transformer, Berlin, Sally Can’t Dance, Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal, Coney Island Baby, Street Hassle, Magic and Loss.

I’m therefore a little bit sorry that Todd HaynesThe Velvet Underground doc, which premiered Wednesday night in Cannes, allegedly focuses a bit more on Cale than on Reed. Or at least, it does according to Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman. That’s unfortunate, if true.

Gleiberman: “Lou the subversive guitar bad boy and Cale the debonair experimentalist came together like an acid and a base. The drone that Cale would listen to became part of the DNA of the Velvets — you can hear it in the ominous sawing viola of ‘Venus in Furs,’ the majestic cacophony of ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties.’

“Yet as great and defining as those songs are, it’s hard to shake the feeling that The Velvet Underground overstates the John Cale side of the equation. The film spends close to an hour reveling in the New York bohemian soil out of which the Velvets sprung. If this were a four-hour, long-form doc (which the subject deserves), I could see that, but Haynes, I think, also views John Cale as a metaphor for the band’s ‘purity.’ Their transcendent first album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, is unthinkable without him, yet he’s the one whose story the documentary feels organized around.

“And that’s not just because Cale (now 79, with floppy silver hair) is interviewed at length while Reed, who died in 2013, couldn’t be. No, it’s as if Haynes wanted the Velvets to be an art band even more than he wanted them to be a rock ‘n’ roll band.”