My favourite music has always been from the 60's and 70's but because she hardly dented the charts here I know comparatively little about Janis Joplin. I must say too that her music doesn't appeal very much to me either, her blues-wailing vocal-style affecting me rather like chalk on blackboard. And yet this was still a fascinating biography of her short life and watching it I couldn't help but think of another young woman who quickly got to the top but once there couldn't handle the pressures and died a lonely death in a haze of drink and drugs, also the subject of a recent documentary biography, I'm speaking of Amy Winehouse of course.
Coloured by archive footage of TV interviews, live performances and many candid home-movies of the time, her brief life span is covered from back to front as she lives out the classic rags-to-riches, success-to-excess route of so many in the music business before she checked into the infamous "27" club, also peopled by Brian Jones Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and indeed Amy Winehouse among many others.
What emerges here is a woman who only ever seemed at home either cutting records or performing live. Away from the stage and studio, however she was insecure about her looks, sensitive of small-town criticism from where she grew up in the American South and always looking out for the dream man who would help her settle down and beat her spiralling drink and drugs habits.
By the end of this engrossing film, I still didn't like her music but certainly better knew, understood and yes, liked the woman behind the music.
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