The film is a bombardment of words. From start till end Patti Smith reads texts of her own or by the many poets she has been inspired of in her multifacetted career as singer, painter, photographer, writer and visual artist. Actually, it is wrong to say that she reads the texts, she recites them as were they music, and this is what gives this film a flow and a rythm and a structure that is like a visual collage in very different styles and moods.
She goes to the places where were Arthur Rimbaud, she reads Allen Ginsberg to us, she travels the world, she takes notes, she takes pictures. And yet the most emotional parts are filmed in her big NY room, where she sits alone in the corner and comments on and shows her ”Objects in Life”.
She puts all her heart into this film that has been made over a period of 12 years, from the point when Patti Smith decided to get back to the music after having been living a family life out of the spotlight. There is a lot of concert sequences, there are photos that serve to take us back to Chelsea Hotel and Burroughs and Mapplethorpe, there are sequences with her and her children, there is a small jam session with Sam Shepard… it is a very rich film that you can only love for a 16mm (sometimes b/w, sometimes colour, sometimes direct cinema, sometimes interviews and staged scenes) camera work with nerve.
It premiered at the Sundance Festival, was at the Berlinale and will for sure come to a cinema or festival near you. I watched it on arte. AND NOW IT IS AT CPH:DOX AS IS PATTI SMITH HERSELF!
US, 2008, 108 mins
Photo: Patti Smith performing in Helsinki 2007