The eccentric performer shares her life and stage performance with us in an overlong and ultimately dull documentary.
Growing up in the 80’s I was a James Bond film fanatic, I loved the cheesy and over the top adventures that they were. Back then Roger Moore was my Bond, it wasn’t until far later in my life I realised that his Bonds were not Bond at all, and I’m not going further with that argument as I don’t have the time to get into that with you. But his View to a Kill introduced me to Grace Jones, the statuesque model and singer was terror inducing as the main Villains henchwoman May Day. I’ll be honest and tell you I was frightened by her eyes. Much later on due to my Older Brothers Album collections I knew that she had music out there, but I never placed one on, never listened. Over the years I’d see her perform music on different TV shows and events and wonder what planet she came from.
It is the stage performances in this film that really struck me as the most interesting and autobiographical element of the documentary. After the second performance on stage you start to think that there is not enough story there to get an insight into this woman who has lost none of her vitality over the years. But the songs and performances tell you more than the backstage and the family part of the story. In fact the stage show is the highlight of the story and I left the cinema wishing that they didn’t try to copy In Bed with Madonna so closely. I would have preferred and would have come out with more knowledge of the woman and her life by watching the stage show from start to finish. Remember that I know nothing about her music apart from that performance on the stage of the Queens last Birthday or Anniversary of taking the crown. But each section of the music on stage gave you more in one song than any of the other footage.
I also have to add to that the footage off stage is so badly shot that you feel a student film maker raided the technology closet in the dark and didn’t know what they took and then followed Grace Jones back to her home and around a bit. The production values of the off stage footage don’t end there as the sound quality is horrible off stage. This is done to the point where the parts of her life that she is discussing with friends and family, the parts that you want to hear, that will shed more light on her life, you are straining to get the full story. Not the most ideal way to present a documentary when there are is a lot of competition out there.
The story you do get show a survivor and a savvy businesswoman, who in her own words, hasn’t just been around the block but around the globe. Someone who survived physical abuse at the hands of their grandfather and in an industry where people are constantly trying to get you to change and work for free has managed to keep thriving. If the whole film was the stage show with Grace Jones talking about her life in between I’m sure that the film maker could have made something that I’d be raving about now. But with that shockingly bad production of the family moments the moments behind the scenes, it is hard for me to show much support, but I will be buying tickets for Miss Jones and her next concert appearance.
Director: Sophie Fiennes
Stars: Grace Jones, Jean-Paul Goude, Sly & Robbie