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Janis: Little Girl Blue

4 out of 5 stars

A documentary on the life and legacy of legendary blues singer Janis Joplin, with great archive clips and interviews

Joshua Rothkopf

Time Out says

Filmmaker Amy Berg’s deeply sympathetic documentary about Janis Joplin – a singer whose shredded wail tapped reservoirs of pain – gets so much right, it feels like a major act of cultural excavation. We get a glimpse of the high-school-aged Janis’s report card (mostly Cs and Ds) and a thorough sense of the tomboy rebel who found her way to San Francisco’s hippie scene. Joplin’s flower-girl mystique is punctured by frustrated bandmates and lovers of both sexes. Best are her letters to home, voiced by Cat Power’s Chan Marshall, pushing us further inside a troubled head than most rock docs dare.

As with recent films ‘Amy’ and ‘Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck’, tragedy can’t help but loom. Still, Joplin’s drug use turns out to be more of a battle than you might have known. She’d already gotten hooked on heroin and kicked it before succumbing to loneliness (and a relapse). Berg relies too often on a shot of a train track receding, while her film tells a more complex story: Joplin wasn’t drawn inexorably to her fate but instead comes off like an adventurer with a sad, untamed spirit.

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 5 February 2016
  • Duration:103 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Amy Berg
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