Reed's Berlin is downbeat and gloomy, with an edge of hysteria.
PUBLISHED: 18:28 24 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:14 07 September 2010
Lou Reed s Berlin (12A) Director Julian Schnabel Starring Lou Reed, Antony Hegarty 80 mins. Two star rating No, he doesn t do Perfect Day. After making a case to be included in the list of top film directors with his heartrending adaptation of The Divin
Lou Reed's Berlin (12A) Director Julian Schnabel Starring Lou Reed,
Two star rating
No, he doesn't do Perfect Day. After making a case to be included in the list of top
film directors with his heartrending adaptation of The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, Schnabel allows his reputation to take a step back with this straightforwardly pretentious concert movie.
Reed's 1973 solo album Berlin can fairly be described as heavy. Its 10 tracks chart a failed romance with a girl called Caroline - a trawl through the darkside involving drug addiction and suicide.
Reed is not a man to shy away from attempts to be taken very very seriously - his band even has a conductor.
And Schnabel approaches the gig as though he's been invested with the spirit of Derek Jarman, projecting various home movies onto a curtain behind the band.
Most of these feature the actress Emmanuelle Seigner as Caroline - so what you get is an extended version of the top half of that very effective Diving Bell poster.
Tedious concert films have been a theme to this year's movie going.
Reed is not a man to indulge in the fatuous theatrics of rock 'n' roll and his approach ought to be more appropriate to a movie.
But his persona as a guitar-welding academic isn't overly compelling. This collection of grizzled musos takes you back to the days of the Old Grey Whistle Test.
I'm not about to attempt to debunk Reed's reputation as one of the greats - although sometimes you wonder.
His deadpan delivery of lyrics is so spare, to the point where they sound like dialogue from a hardboiled detective novel.
The man's a poet but sometimes you'd be pushed to know it - "Since she lost her daughter/ it's her eyes that fill with water."
The musical content is so remorselessly downbeat and gloomy, there's a lurking hysteria to it. And as it descends into the closing sequence The Kids/ The Bed/ Sad Song, you might have to stifle giggles - a reaction to how oppressively overwrought it all is.
Yet this bit is when the film achieves some genuine power. It's not one that's going to convert. But, if you're a fan of the album, it will work.
When the 10 tracks of Berlin are up, we get a little encore although it isn't until the end credits roll that we get anything vaguely upbeat, Sweet Jane, to listen to.