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  • David Parkinson

Parky At the Pictures (17/5/2024)

Updated: May 25

(Reviews of Nuestra Madres; Nezouh; The Almond and the Seahorse; and Catching Fire The Story of Anita Pallenberg)


NUESTRA MADRES.


Five years have passed since César Díaz unexpectedly won the Caméra d'or at Cannes for his debut feature, Nuestra Madres/Our Mothers. The fact that this closure drama set during the aftermath of Guatemala's Silent Holocaust has taken so long to reach UK screens rather betrays the disappointing truth that its socio-political sincerity outstrips its cinematic quality.


Ernesto González (Armando Espitia) is a forensic anthropologist at Guatemala's Medico-Legal Institute. Detailed to exhume bodies from the unmarked graves ordered by the right-wing government in the 1980s, he painstakingly pieces together bones and uses DNA to return remains to grieving families. As the TV news covers the start of a trial in Guatemala City of some soldiers accused of war crimes, he struggles to fathom why his nurse mother, Cristina (Emma Dib), refuses to testify. But Ernesto's job takes an unexpectedly personal turn when Nicolasa (Aurelia Caal), a Mayan rape survivor seeking the husband who had been executed for giving food to some rebels, shows him a photograph in which he thinks he recognises his long-missing father.


Ignoring the warnings of his boss to focus on the municipal cemetery, Ernesto drives to San Cristobel with his colleague, Juan (Julio Serrano Echeverria). As the grave is on private land, a bribed security guard refuses to let Ernesto dig. But the other women in the village wish to testify (having learned there is compensation for each loss) and Ernesto promises to return even if an official dig is not sanctioned.


After a rollicking from his boss, Ernesto gets drunk and sleeps off having sex with the barmaid in his car in a multi-storey car park. He joins in a rendition of `The Internatonale' at his mother's birthday party and returns to work. One night, however, his boss breaks the news that his father's bones have been found. A DNA test reveals that Ernesto is not the man's son and Cristina testifies in court that she was repeatedly tortured and raped during her six-month incarceration in a secret prison in 1982.


Cristina reassures Ernesto that he is the best thing that ever happened to her and he stays late one night to piece together the bones of the man who will always be his father. Shortly afterwards, he gets permission to exhume the bodies in San Cristobel and Nicolasa looks on with the other women who lost their loved ones in an act of brutal recrimination.


Impeccably designed by Pilar Peredo and photographed by the Polish-born Virginie Surdej, this is a respectful rather than a revealing reflection on the genocide perpetrated in the early 1980s by Efraín Ríos Montt during his vicious bid to quash the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity. Those unfamiliar with this hideous chapter will struggle to appreciate the pain of those whose friends and family members were `disappeared', as Díaz (an editor with some documentary experience) makes no concessions in focussing on the suffering of those who continue to grieve without bodies to mourn.


Editor Damien Maestraggi creates a moving montage of the dignified faces of the Mayan women who have waited decades to tell their story. But only Aurelia Caal's Nicolasa gets a chance to recall her loss and her simple account is markedly more emotionally authentic than the awkward speech that Emma Dib is given to deliver in courtroom close-up during a trial whose purpose is never clearly defined in a screenplay that too often veers between the elusive and the over-emphatic.


Apparently struggling to disguise his Mexican accent, Armando Espitia is impenetrably impassive as Ernesto, whose sudden outburst that one has to be mad or drink to live in Guatemala seems to come from nowhere, as Díaz is so reluctant to divulge any backstory. His run-ins with his stereotypically grumpy boss are also contrived, while the showdown with the San Cristobel guard frustrates because, while it exposes the corruption of petty functionaries, it's never explained who owns the land and why it has been fenced off.


For the most part, Díaz's direction is rather functional (and hardly Caméra d'or calibre). However, there are a couple of nice moments, as Ernesto speeds through traffic lights on empty nocturnal streets after learning that his father has been identified and, then, as the camera remains discreetly at the end of a long white corridor while he learns the devastating DNA findings. Moreover, Díaz deserves credit for tackling such a significant subject. But there is much more left to say about this pitiless American-sanctioned conflict and the women who have silently endured its atrocities for four decades.


NEZOUH.


Born in France, raised in Damascus and trained in Lebanon, Soudade Kaadan made the documentary shorts Two Cities and a Prison (2008), While My Soul Is Unmindful (2009), and Damascus Roof and Tales of Paradise (2010) while working for Al-Jazeera, the United Nations Development Programme, and UNICEF. Following the full-length actuality, Looking For Pink (2009), she made an auspicious feature bow with The Day I Lost My Shadow (2018). Now, Kaadan seeks to show that it is possible to make a film about Syrian life that isn't centred entirely on conflict in Nezouh, whose title translates as `the displacement of soul, water and people'.


Fourteen year-old Zeina (Hala Zein) lives in Damscus with her mother, Hala (Kinda Alloush), and father, Motaz (Samer al Masri). Most people in their building have left for fear of the encroaching enemy. But Motaz insists on staying and tries to use his mechanic skills to build his own generator. Courageous and resourceful as he is patriarchal and stubborn, he risks his life to fetch water and food from abandoned properties. However, he refuses to budge, even though Zeina's older sisters have already left.


Shortly after they have enjoyed a cooling blast of the fan (powered by a car battery), a shell crashes through the roof of Zeina's bedroom. The blast shatters the windows in the lounge and covers the place with rubble and dust. Hala pleads with her husband to think about taking a job near their daughter, but he reminds her that he is the man of the house with a reputation to uphold in the neighbourhood. Dismissing tears as the effects of allergies, he promises to make repairs so that they'll have the best apartment around. Trusting in her father, Zeina tosses stones out of the gaping hole in the wall and imagines she's skimming them on a placid lake.


Motaz is appalled when the boys from the Tabaa family across the road call to ask if they are okay, as Hala's hair is uncovered. He doesn't know that Zeina has started menstruating, as her mother has told her to keep it a secret so she can prolong her childhood. But she spots Amer (Nizar Alani) waving to her from his bombed-out balcony and she gets distracted while helping Motaz cover the shell holes with sheets. He's cross when Zeina says it's like living in a tent, as he refuses to contemplate moving to a refugee camp. But he's powerless to stop some of the sheets blowing away in a storm and he slumps on to the settee as rain cascades in through the ceiling.


That night, as she tries to sleep, Zeina hears Amer call to her through the sheet. He lowers a rope and urges him to climb on to the roof to enjoy the stars. She asks about the Little Bear, but he has no idea what she's talking about and shows her some frontline footage on her phone. When Zeina snaps that she doesn't want to see any film in which anyone dies, Amer proceeds to tell her a story. As she settles back to listen, the camera pulls up to show him lying on the roof above her in a moment of chaste sweetness.


The next morning, having conducted some running repairs, Motaz reassures Hala that the daughter who has travelled to Europe will be doing well for herself. But she's not reassured and doesn't see him off when he goes for water. She has a little dance sorting the bedroom when Zeina plays a song on her laptop, but she's too preoccupied to notice the sudden silence because her daughter has climbed the rope to join Amer on the roof.


She hasn't seen the view before, but winds up watching her mother through the hole in the masonry. Amer asks her to record something for the reportage film he is making and (adopting the alias of Jasmine) Zeina tells a story about tending to a pigeon on her window ledge. When he looks down and sees no nest, he accuses her of lying to his listeners, but she shrugs because truth in wartime is too boring.


Cross at not being welcomed with enthusiasm, Motaz can't understand why Hala isn't pleased with the provisions he's looted. He insists he ran the gamut of six snipers, but she doesn't believe this any more than his assertion that they would be safe if the enemy just left civilians alone. Tutting at his bombastic naivety, she gets on with storing the groceries in silence.


That night, Amer drops the rope and Zeina gets to see the stars. He has brought a projector that had been left behind by fleeing journalists from the media centre and he shows her a home movie of his family's first trip to the seaside. Zeina is enchanted and tells Amer that her dream is to live near the sea and catch fish. He protests that there is no such word as `fisherwoman' and she gets grumpy with him for being a chauvinist know-all like her father. He produces a phone so she can check her sister's Facebook page, but she hasn't posted anything for weeks on her journey north and, when Amer reminds her that no one dies in their film, she retorts that they're not in a movie.


Hearing Motaz stirring, Zeina jumps through the hole and floats serenely to the bed, with the constellations passing behind her. She lands with a bump and tells her father that she fell off the mattress after having had a nightmare. Soldiers had come and shot her and her mother, while he was forced to look on. But Motaz blusters that no one can harm her while he's around and fibs that he stays awake all night to watch over his precious girls. Consequently, he doesn't hear Hala asking Amer to lower a phone in a basket so she can call her daughters. When he finds her cowering in a cupboard, Muntoz wonders what has come over them.


Next morning, Amer comes to tell Motaz that his family is leaving. Hala wants to join them, as a tunnel offering safe passage has been reopened. But her husband is furious with her and follows her into the kitchen while she's making tea to order her not to show him up in front of a boy. He has picked a jasmine flower for her and she hides it in her sleeve before Motaz can escort Amer to the door with good wishes for his diabetic father.


Zeina watches the Tabaas load up a truck with their belongings. Motaz tries to cheer her up with a bowl of blackberries he has collected and she experiments with using the juice to colour her lips. Overjoyed when Amer calls to her, she brings the berries on to the roof and they get sticky together. He has found her a fishing rod and has to duck out of the way when she swishes it in the air. For the first time in ages, Zeina feels happy. But she's confined to her room when Abu Muthher (Nabil Abousalih) calls.


He is a relative and wants to marry Zeina to a 17 year-old war hero. Hala loathes Abu Mutther because he arranged the match for her missing daughter, Lina, and ignores Motaz's order that she returns to the kitchen. Insulted, the visitor leaves after browbeating Motaz for not controlling his wife. But she tells Zeina to start packing because they are leaving and Motaz is mortified when Hala says she refuses to let her daughter make the same mistake she did. As they reach the staircase, Motaz pulls a gun, only for Hala to mock him for trying to protect them with threats.


Unable to recognise anywhere in the bombed neighbourhood, Hala gets lost. She rests and pulls a pair of red high heels out of her bin liner and leaves them in the rubble as a memento of happier times. They go to Zeina's school, where she throws the ruler with which the teacher used to beat her out of the window. From the roof, they see Motaz prowling the streets and Hala chides Zeina when she says he's lost his mind.


Scurrying through the streets in the darkness, they meet a woman in a black haja (Darina Al Joundi), who scoffs when Hala says she wants to get to the sea. They are sent back by young men holding a checkpoint, who cause people to panic by firing their guns in the air. However, they are found by Amer, who has been using a camera drone to scour the streets and he offers to help guide them to the sea, where Hala wants to take a boat to a new life.


Amer finds the tunnel and plays a rap about the bombing to soothe Hala's nerves when she gets claustrophobic. Emerging outside the besieged zone, Amer is greeted by Abu El Sheeb (Samer Seyyid Ali), an armed guard who asks what side he's on because he can no longer tell. Winning him over with a drone display, Amer is joined by Zeina and Hala, who flatters Abu El Sheeb with being a sure shot when he brings down the drone. He has a truck and agrees to drive them to safety. But, as Zeina starts filming from the flat bed, she sees Motaz chasing after them.


Hala tells Abu El Sheeb to keep driving, but Zeina threatens to jump unless they stop. She runs to her father, who has brought her fishing rod and he teaches her how to cast in the middle of the desert. Impatient, Hala comes to fetch Zeina. but she sees how much she loves her father and she shrugs as he promises that he's seen the error of his ways. The camera pulls up to the clouds in the blue sky, which are match cut with ripples of water on a calm, sunlit sea.


For around an hour, this is an empathetically engrossing satire on patriarchal folly that does put a fresh spin on accepted notions of the Syrian war film. Samer al Masri succeeds in making Motaz hulkingly doting, recklessly courageous, and buffoonishly toxic in bullet-headedly insisting that he knows best for his family, while Kinda Alloush watchfully portrays the loyal wife who is beginning to realise where years of submissiveness have brought her. Initially seen drawing on the underside of her bed by candlelight, Hala Zein delicately conveys the innocence of the youngest daughter who is starting to realise that there is more to life than being a daddy's girl.


Her rooftop romance with the gangling Nizar Alani is sweet enough, although disbelief has to be suspended over the ease with which he clambers up there with everything from fishing rods to projectors. It's also surprising that they aren't rumbled, as they don't exactly whisper and their voices would carry in the eerie nocturnal silence through the cavernous holes in the ceilings and walls. But the fantasy holds, even allowing Zeina to float in slow-motion through the stars. However, from the moment the story hits the streets, it starts to become ragged and reliant on increasingly far-fetched contrivances.


There's something Beckettian about Hala and Zeina's haphazard progress through the decimated ruins (which are actually in Turkey). But the episode with the red shoes jars as much as the sudden appearance of trigger-happy gunmen and the ease with which Amer finds Zeina and Hala using a drone that he would probably have never flown before, no matter how well he had got on with the war correspondents who had bequeathed him their kit. Such convolutions would matter less if Kaadan hadn't decided to top them by having Muzat appear in a puff of dust in a denouement would only just ring true in an Arabian Nights tale.


Despite the last reel drift, this is a film with much to commend. Production designer Osman Özcan's cratered interiors recall the setting for Babak Anvari's Under the Shadows (2016), with the charming patterned sheets contrasting amusingly with monstrous tarpaulin. Rob Lane and Rob Manning's bağlama-ish score is twangingly jolly enough, although it sometimes feels as much tailored to Western audiences as the pairing of Hélène Louvart and Nelly Quettier with cinematographer Burak Kanbir and with Kaadan in her role as editor. Yet it's her use of off-screen space that is often the most effective, as she reminds viewers aware of the fate of so many migrants attempting to cross to Europe through the deft references to the older sisters with whom all contact has been lost. This theme also sours the happy ending, as Hala's determination to reach the coast and take her chances on the sea will leave many with a sense of foreboding rather than feel-good.


THE ALMOND AND THE SEAHORSE.


A stage play by Kaite O'Reilly is translated to the screen by first-time directors Celyn Jones and Tom Stern in The Almond and the Seahorse. Jones had acted in the original production over a decade ago and reprises his role in this Mersey-set drama. But, even with O'Reilly assisting with the screenplay, this sincere, but tonally erratic and narratively contrived drama does less than intended to draw attention to the toll taken on victims and carers of traumatic brain injuries.


Two years after surgery to remove a benign brain tumour, Joe (Celyn Jones) has anterograde amnesia. In addition to short-term memory loss that often leaves him baffled in everyday situations, he is also so disinhibited that he unintentionally oversteps social boundaries and has to be rescued by his archaeologist wife, Sarah (Rebel Wilson), who spends her days assembling ancient skeletons at the World Museum in Liverpool. Following a kerfuffle in the street when a Black mother objects to Joe giving her young son a doughnut, Sarah informs sister-in-law, Cath (Alice Lowe), that Joe needs to spend some time in residential respite so he can be reassessed by neuropsychiatrist, Dr Falmer (Meera Syal).


Former architect Toni (Charlotte Gainsbourg) has reached the same decision, as cellist partner Gwen (Trine Dyrholm), is making sharing their home impossible. She suffered a head trauma while pregnant in a car crash 15 years earlier, but has no recollection of anything that has happened since. Pained by Gwen's lack of trust, Toni consents to an exploratory stay at the Open Field TBI Hospital, even though she isn't convinced by Falmer's platitudes about coping with a silent epidemic.


Sarah records a tape in which she explains how Joe's brain has been rewired and how two of its key components, the amygdala and the hippocampus (which resemble an almond and a seahorse), have ceased to create new memories. However, the information goes over his head and he becomes frustrated. By contrast, Gwen achieves a kind of clarity while after rediscovering while talking to Dr Falmer that her mother has died. She reassures Toni that Gwen is in good hands, but she is resentful at being told to take a step back after having had everything she has worked for wiped out in a careless second.


Feeling at a loose end, Toni goes to a gig at a local record shop, while Sarah throws herself into her work. However, she is crushed by the revelation that Joe's memory is fading to the point where he may well forget her. Blaming Falmer, she sobs in the bathroom and is overheard by Gwen, who tells her not to waste life on regrets.


She has started playing her cello again and seems serene when Toni informs her that she can no longer survive on false hopes. Toni bumps into Sarah in the hospital garden and they leave together and wind up in bed because they need some solace. Despite day trips and meals, Sarah still loves Joe and Toni is disappointed when she backs away. However, the rejection prompts her to revisit Gwen and they venture out on to Crosby Beach to commune with Antony Gormley's `Another Place' statues.


Determined to enjoy the man she still has, Sarah sleeps with Joe. Five years later, he plays with young Joey at a garden party in the hospital grounds, despite having no idea he's his son. Gwen plays the cello and Toni and Sarah agree that they made the right decisions in reaching a new present. But we actually discover nothing about their current lives or how they have reconciled themselves to having to leave the past behind.


Admirable in its intentions and capably made (Gini Godwin's production design is spot on), this engaging melodrama is structurally and clinically wayward. By leaping into the story's mid-point without bothering to establish the characters, Jones and O'Reilly's screenplay leaves the viewer to play endless catch-up, as flashbacks tumble in on domestic incidents and diagnostic appointments that fall haphazardly along an indeterminate timeline. It doesn't help that Dr Falmer offers no sort of medical insight into Joe and Gwen's conditions and outlines nothing by way of treatment strategies (or how the facility is funded). But who wouldn't trust Meera Syal when she exudes such competence and compassion and is so quirkily enigmatic towards underused underlings Ruth Madeley and Patrick Elue?


Without ever appearing sufficiently fragile and vulnerable, Jones and Dyrholm present varying levels of control in delineating the neurological degeneration of their characters. But it's sometimes difficult to avoid the impression that one is watching skilled performances rather than authentic case histories. Relying on her potent intensity, Charlotte Gainsbourg does what she can with a thinly written role, although even she struggles to make the romantic interlude seem credible. But she has little chemistry with Rebel Wilson, who is less comfortable in the more emotionally taxing sequences. That said, she's hindered by the frequent theatricality of the language, which even trips up a practiced scene-stealer like Alice Lowe.


Such staginess is mediated by Tom Stern's evocative views of the Wirral coastline and Liverpool's St George's Quarter. But even he conspires in quaintifying the already saccharine conclusion, which rings rather hollow, as neither Joe nor Gwen appears to have deteriorated significantly during the five-year interlude. This is a compelling topic that would particularly suit a documentary approach. But it needs a surer hand to make it work as something fictional, especially when it's saddled with so many on-the-nose songs from Super Furry Animal, Gruff Rhys.


CATCHING FIRE: THE STORY OFANITA PALLENBERG.


Having been the significant other in Danny Garcia's Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones (2019) and Nick Broomfield's The Stones and Brian Jones (2023), Anita Pallenberg might have hoped to be front and centre in Alexis Bloom and Svetlana Zill's Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenburg. However, Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards cast long shadows. So, even though this fascinating and often desperately sad documentary draws heavily on Pallenberg's unpublished memoir, Black Magic, the emphasis always feels to be on her role in the story of The Rolling Stones rather than how being in their orbit shaped her own destiny.


Details of her upbringing are sparse, as she left her family behind at the age of 19. However. school friend Metka Kosak recalls how they drove the nuns to distraction at their school before Anita set sail for New York and made use of the fact she was the great-granddaughter of Symbolist painter Arnold Böcklin to find a niche in the circles of Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. Over splendid archive photographs, Stash Klossowski (aka Prince Stanislas Klossowskide Rola) reflects on how Pallenberg took to the bohemian lifestyle and grabbed the opportunities that opened up when she started modelling.


But it was a backstage encounter with Brian Jones after 1965 Stones concert in Munich that changed Pallenberg's life. Delighting in their facial similarity, Jones became obsessed. But he was also possessive and became increasingly disturbed after some bad LSD trips. Pallenberg fought back when Jones assaulted her, but she realised that she had to get away from Jones when they took a trip to Marrakech with Richards in 1967. Leaving Jones in Paris to receive treatment after a heavy session, Anita and Keith discovered they had more in common than being war babies.


Jones tried to win her back, but Pallenberg was enjoying turning Richards into a scruffy chic icon (mostly through her own clothes) and being treated with a little respect by someone who had no idea what she saw in him. However, Anita and Brian were still linked by Volker Schlöndorff's crime thriller, A Degree of Murder (1967), in which Pallenberg had made her acting debut and for which Jones had written the score (with some uncredited help from Richards). Resisting his bid for a reconciliation at Cannes, Pallenberg had gone to Hollywood to play the Great Tyrant opposite Jane Fonda in Roger Vadim's Barbarella (1968). While they show several clips, however, the co-directors opt not to point out that her dialogue had been dubbed by the peerless Joan Greenwood. Instead, they make a rather gauche attempt to claim her as a lost latterday Marlene Dietrich.


Up to this point, Jagger had been too involved with Marianne Faithfull to get caught up in the Pallenberg saga. But they were thrown together as Turner and Pherber in Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg's Performance, which was filmed in 1968. Proximity led to temptation and the lovers sought to restore the status quo by taking a slow boat to South America with their partners over the Christmas holidays. However, Faithfull (who had regarded Pallenberg as a role model) realised her time with Jagger was over and she opted not to follow the trio to Peru. Eventually, Mick recognised that the bond between Anita and Keith was too strong and went off to write `You Can't Always Get What You Want', while his bandmate exorcised his anger in `Gimme Shelter' before expressing his adoration in `You Got the Silver'.


By this time, the pair had been joined by their son, Marlon Leon Sundeep, who would be followed by Angela (who is still cross with her sibling for her original name, Dandelion). But Brian had departed the scene at the age of 27 on 3 July 1969, shortly after he had been ejected from the Stones for being a liability. Financial problems also reared their head. Needing to get out of Britain for tax reasons, Pallenberg and Richards rented the Villa Nellcôte at Villefranche-sur-Mer on the Côte d'Azur. Rather than proving a hideaway, however, this became Party Central when Keith invited the band to record Exile on Main St. in the basement studio and dozens of liggers latched on to the sessions.


Marlon remembers how tough Anita found it being responsible for so many people and how she had resorted to heroin in order to cope. Eventually, the police got wind of the drug-taking at the villa (which Jake Weber describes as terrifying) and Marlon laments the collection of toys he had to leave behind when his parents fled. After renting around 20 properties over the next three years, the pair found a refuge near Geneva, where they were befriended by Sandro Sursock, who helped out with the kids and kept Pallenberg company when Richards was on tour.


Such was the sense of contentment that they had a second son, Tara Jo Jo Gunne. However, he died a cot death after 10 weeks and Pallenberg wondered in her memoir whether she might have saved him had she been more together. Later claiming to have been suicidal, Richards went on stage in Paris that night against the advice of his bandmates and the footage of him impassively playing `Honky Tonk Women' is chilling.


Clinging together, Pallenberg and Richards set up home in South Salem, New York (although Angela remained in London with her disapproving grandmother, Doris). Nanny Theda Zawaiza remembers Marlon and the visiting Angela with great fondness, but seems conflicted over Anita's friendship with 18 year-old Scott Cantrell, who worked as a part-time groundsman. This turned into an affair, while Keith was recording in Paris. But it proved short-lived, as Cantrell fatally shot himself on 20 July 1979, while emulating the Russian roulette scene in Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978). Pallenberg was arrested. But, while no charges were pressed, the tragedy prompted a split from Richards and Pallenberg was left to pick up the pieces.


A gruelling period followed in New York's Alphabet City, where she resorted to theft to feed her habit. However, having cleaned up her act, Pallenberg reinvented herself by taking a fashion degree at Central Saint Martins in 1994. Kate Moss became a close friend and she enthuses about how Anita and James Fox had reunited after Performance as The Queen and The Pope in Harmony Korine's Mister Lonely (2007). Frustratingly little is said about either the last third of Pallenberg's life or her state of mind, as she acclimatised to being outside the maelstrom. Pallenberg was under no illusions that Black Magic would never be published (`I don't think the lawyers will like it very much,' she wrote). But it seems to be the final chapters that have been overlooked, as she becomes an elusive rather than merely private person prior to dying of complications from Hepatitis C in Worthing in 2017.


What emerges is that Pallenberg was a force of nature, whose individuality, intelligence, and sense of independence set her apart in the 1960s, when women were still expected to know their place, even at a time of seismic socio-sexual change. Clearly a complicated and conflicted person, she settled for inspiring others to create great art when she might have done so herself as an actress, had she not bowed to Richards's chauvinist attitude to working women. More might have been said here about her addictive personality and her role in the shift to harder drugs in the 1970s. As she said, `Keith's no angel. But neither am I,' before going on to claim with Piafian bravura that she regretted nothing, in spite of being called `a witch, a slut, and a murderer'.


Marlon and Angela Richards are understandably protective of their mother and their interviews are highly poignant. Their father is only heard in voiceover (as he conceded that Anita made a man of him), while Scarlett Johansson reads from the manuscript without attempting Anita's German-Italian accent. Volker Schlöndorff and Stash Klossowski offer intriguing insights into the pre-Stoned Pallenberg and leave one to wonder where she might have gone (even with her tendency to push things to the limit) if she hadn't accepted a bet to kidnap one of the band backstage at a gig at which Mick was too busy playing maracas to dance around.


The wealth of audiovisual material is adeptly handled by Adam Evans and Hannah Vanderlan. But it's the previously unseen Super 8 footage provided by Marlon Richards that gives this thoughtful profile an intimacy to go with its immediacy. But one question remains. How did Anita get on with bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts and how did they view her presence in their midst, as the rock'n'roll started to play second string to the sex and drugs?


PS

Danke Jürgen YNWA




























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