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Review of 'Nico, 1988' (2017) – Susanna Nicchiarelli.

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  • Review of 'Nico, 1988' (2017) – Susanna Nicchiarelli.

    Writer/Director Susanna Nicchiarelli's flint-edged, wickedly acerbic biographical drama takes the viewer on a refreshingly raw and unsentimental tour of the final fitful years of the incomparable artist formerly known as Nico aka Christa Päffgen. Starting in a deceptively prosaic manner with earnest, starstruck manager Richard (John Gordon Sinclair) showing the prospective tenant Christa (Trine Dyrholm) around a rundown property in Manchester, feigning the need to pee, Christa injects heroin, and, thus, we are unflinchingly drawn into the tragic, blackly funny, spirited, paranoid, sporadically beautiful final years of this incomparable artiste! Music biogs are all too often trite, overly burnished homilies, but 'Nico' 1988' excitingly captures the beguiling enigma of its inimitable musical heroine. Trine Dyrholm's Christa is a fearless force of nature, whether onstage mesmerically invoking Nico's music with an exhilarating verisimilitude, immobilized by heroin, or kvetching acidly with equally strung-out band members, Trine Dyrholm's dynamite performance is vividly charged with a deliciously dark magnetism!

    Such a palpably doomy, downward-spiralling film centred upon the more diminished capacities of such a unique artist could be depressingly maudlin, yet 'Nico, 1988', while undeniably heartbreaking, is also vivid, uproarious, elegiac, celebratory, and it rocks exceedingly hard indeed! This is exemplary film-making, the decadent, insalubrious 80s are immaculately realised, a deliciously unglamorous milieu of rickety, claustrophobically snug transit vans, anonymous, ill-lit venues, cramped, makeshift accommodations, dismal, drug-laced inertia all leavened by brief cathartic ecstasy of the stage are all thrillingly rendered in Susanna Nicchiarelli's adrenalized musical masterpiece! Along with Trine Dyrholm's formidable presence, I was also taken by the beguilingly gentle performance by Anamaria Marinca as the kindly, ingenuous Romania Violinist Sylvia. Wholly deserving its accolades 'Nico, 1988' is a searing, soul stirring, sonically satisfying biopic of a fascinatingly elusive, fathoms deep, wholly irreplaceable musical iconoclast.

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