Prey for Rock & Roll
Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”
At the heart of this entertaining little Sundance baby about an aging rock band that never made it is a somewhat complex portrayal of a woman anxiously on the verge of middle age. It's no surprise that lead singer Jacki is so sharply seen, since the film is autobiographical and Gina Gershon is a good actress, but what is really interesting is how well the film captures her mindset besides just leaning on her occasional voiceover narration. Every single character exists on camera exactly as Jacki sees him or her, both friends and enemies, and this would be a remarkable achievement in character perspective if it did not seem to occur by accident, given that Jacki is not present in every scene to witness it. (On the other hand, the scenes without her seem unrealistic, so perhaps we see them as she imagined them happening after the fact. But on the other hand, is it more likely that the filmmakers went to such trouble to establish unrealistic scenes and one-dimensional characters on purpose, or that I imagined something that wasn't there?)
The film does cut corners where necessary, including filming an entire performance without one of the band members (a double plays her in deep shadows) when the actress was presumably occupied. But not every such measure hurts the film: The fact that each band member keeps wearing the same few outfits eventually makes you realize how silly it is in other movies that characters can afford to wear different clothing in every scene.
I liked the film overall. I liked the performances, especially Gina Gershon as the lone three-dimensional character present. I liked the music on the soundtrack, because it's always fun to recognize music from your own collection in a movie. What I did not like were the flat songs actually performed onscreen by the band, the fact that the film kept recycling the same two sets, and especially the melodramatic subplots that detracted from a comfortably low-key production. It's not a great movie about aging or about rock n roll, but it is a fun and interesting one about both.