Year 2, Day 14 - 1/14/10 - Movie #379
BEFORE: Back to 1970's movies from my wife's video collection, this time with Bette Midler in the central role, loosely based on the life of Janis Joplin. All I really know about this film is the theme song, which they forced us to sing in junior high...you might know it from a famous scene in "Napoleon Dynamite", with students performing hand gestures illustrating the song lyrics.
THE PLOT: The story of the tragic life of a self destructive female rock star.
AFTER: It's a good illustration of the dichotomy of fame - someone will work so hard to get famous, then once they succeed, they want to be anonymous and just run away somewhere. Struggle hard to get everything they want, then spend their days in a haze of alcohol and drugs, so they can't even enjoy their own success. Singers without gigs wish they had them, and singers with full tour schedules wish they could just take some time off...
Mary Rose Foster (Midler) seems to have the talent, but she's incredibly self-destructive - in addition to the booze and the pills, she's got a touring schedule that's driving her off the deep end, plus she's tempermental and goes missing for days at a time. So she's got a love/hate working/non-working relationship with her manager (Alan Bates) and she picks up drifters and AWOL army men to join the tour and follow her around. But whenever she gets close to a man (or woman) she also does her best to drive them away.
So she bounces from gig to gig, and lover to lover, causing arguments and barfights wherever she goes...collectively it's a downward spiral, and we all know where that ends. Her dream is to give a performance in her old hometown, to show them how far she's come from the girl she used to be - but can she keep it together long enough to make it to the stadium in one piece?
Midler is great in the on-stage performances, adding extra lyrics to the end of "When a Man Loves a Woman" to turn it into a feminist anthem. Rose is strong on stage, with her voice improving after a few shots from her flask...
With David Keith (not Keith David) in a small role, and a cameo by Harry Dean Stanton.
RATING: 5 out of 10 drag queens