Director: Sophie Fiennes
Starring: Grace Jones, Jean-Paul Goude, Sly & Robbie
Release Date: 25th October
Continuing a recent trend of films that focus on big music stars comes Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami directed by Sophie Fiennes. This documentary focuses on the life and music of a cultural, music, and fashion icon, the androgynous Grace Jones.
Unlike recent music-film releases such as Amy or Whitney: Can I Be Me, this film combines live performances with reflections on Jones’ life and was made alongside the star. It celebrates her life and her success in a world that wasn’t set up for her to succeed.
The documentary follows Jones on a trip back to her childhood home in Jamaica. Here we are told nostalgic stories by family and locals. The film is set at the time the singer was producing her 2008 album Hurricane. Throughout the documentary, the film cuts between stage performances from her Hurricane tour and Jones in Jamaica. This gives us the Jones persona on stage and the real Jones who each feeds into the other.
The film has a visual appeal that stands out
Often the cutscenes reflect and contribute to one another perfectly. One significant example is when we have an insight into Grace’s parents’ family history and then in the next scene, we see Grace performing a personal song about the topic.
The film revolves around events that occurred in 2008. The nine years it took to release the film reflect the difficulty Fiennes had in securing financial backing for the project. However, this hasn’t hindered the film in any sense and it may even lend to it as the pacing is excellent and there is an even balance of show performances and Grace off stage.
There is a visual appeal that stands out for the duration of the film. The quality of the tour performances is beautiful. What makes this so visually appealing is Jones herself. Her flamboyant costume style and her large array of eye-catching hats combined with the stage layout makes for a visual spectacle.
Sophie Fiennes does a great job of giving us an intimate view of Jones’ world. Fiennes accomplishes this in many ways, one being the choice of music. Going into the film, I expected to hear classic Jones hits during the tour performances. Instead, we get performances of more personal songs that are truer to the singer as an individual rather than an icon.
Sophie Fiennes does a great job of giving us an intimate view of Jones’ world.
The documentary sets out to enter the world of Grace Jones and it succeeds in depicting the real human behind the persona. This documentary is well-made, especially considering the lack of belief that producers showed in it. It’s a must for any music-film fans and a special treat for fans of the global music icon.
In a nutshell: An excellent exploration of the person behind the artist that is Grace Jones.