Run time: 103 mins
In Theaters: Friday 16th November 2012
Box Office USA: $30.4k
Distributed by: Variance Films/Well Go USA
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 23 Rotten: 13
IMDB: 6.8 / 10
Director: P. David Ebersole
Producer: Todd Hughes, Christina Soletti
Screenwriter: P. David Ebersole, Todd Hughes
Hole drummer Patty Schemel's feisty personality infuses this fast-paced film, which not only documents her rollercoaster experiences with drug addition but also provides a lucid exploration of the Seattle grunge scene. Both aspects of the movie are fascinating, as the film is assembled with an energetic sense of humour and some startlingly intimate moments. But the level of detail sometimes makes it all feel rather dense to audience members who are unfamiliar with the music.
It's no wonder that Hole has been referred to as "the ultimate dysfunctional family"; the line-up has changed drastically over the years since Courtney Love and Eric Erlandson founded the band in 1989. They were introduced to Patty Schemel by Kurt Cobain, and later recruited bassist Kristen Pfaff to form their original line-up. In 1994, the drugs-related deaths of both Cobain and Pfaff, barely two months apart, shook them all to the core. Although they didn't stop their partying ways, and maintained their creative momentum with new bassist Melissa Auf der Maur.
Subtitled The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel, the film recounts events of these years through Schemel's eyes, infusing the film with her raucous wit. Extensive clips of Hole's mammoth 1995 world tour give a vivid look at their drug-fuelled backstage antics, while interviews with the bandmates and other musicians tell the story in as much detail as they can remember (there are some fuzzy memories, understandably!). There's also rare performance footage and personal home movies, much of which was shot by Love. A sequence featuring Cobain, Love and their daughter Frances is almost shockingly intimate, giving a flavour of how these people lived as an extended family.
Schemel famously left Hole in 1997 after the troubled recording of their hit album Celebrity Skin. And she disappeared into yet another drug abyss before finally emerging into sobriety six years ago. In all, she's been through rehab 11 times, and the film captures her struggle with real honesty and insight, as well as her youthful yearning for gay and lesbian role models and the knowledge that now she needs to be one for others. She readily acknowledges that she was lucky to survive her addiction, and it's inspiring to see her working to make a difference now.