Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami ★★½

Grace Jones is incredible, there's no doubting that. She is one of those rare, astonishing icons who just seems to do everything well. When she appears in a movie, your eyes are immediately on her, whatever else is happening. When she models, she absolutely dominates the camera. She's a powerhouse. When she sings? It's incredible. You might think she's going to be a novelty act if you don't know much about her but her voice is out of this world. Her songs are great. She's more than a true artist, she is a living work of art.

Unfortunately, Bloodlight and Bami kind of lets down its subject. The concert film footage is well shot and captures Grace in her element as she sings some new songs and old favourites with her usual energy and style. But the rest of the movie is just candid footage of Grace in various cities of the world, talking to an array of people (often shouting at them about something). Some of this is mildly interesting, like when she talks to her old neighbour Miss Myrtle, from where she grew up in Jamaica, but other footage seems ponderous and without much point. All of it needs a LOT of editing (at 2 directionless hours, the film is way overlong).

It's cool to see the chameleonic way in which she adapts to her surroundings and interacts with people at various levels but, for something that's supposed to get intimately 'behind' the legend, I didn't come away understanding I knew much about who Grace Jones really was. Ironically though, I also felt I knew more than I wanted to. There a few scenes where Grace is drunk and rambling to various silenced onlookers and this is, sadly, familiar - she comes across as an aging casualty of the 80s like any other... which is a bit sad.

Perhaps the highlights of the non-concert footage are the bits where Grace puts on her make-up because that's when you really do see her transforming, physically and psychologically, into her stage persona and it's fascinating to see someone at work who's so expert at turning themselves into a living work of art. It's just a shame that the film seems unsure of itself and what it's trying to say. It's like a lot of it's just "well, we shot this so we'd better put it in". It feels loose and unfocused. I hate to sound like a philistine but, even as a fan, I'd rather have just had a 'straight' documentary about Grace's life and work than this, integrated with the (as I say, excellent) concert footage.

CJ liked this review