Heaven Adores You
A tender documentary about the life and work of unassuming singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, Nickolas Rossi’s Heaven Adores You delves into the short but eventful life of an artist who many hail to be a musical genius. Smith might not have been the most famous musician in the world but during his all-too-short career he achieved wide critical acclaim, an Oscar nomination and, like many artists who don’t court the spotlight, found it extremely difficult when he did find success. Uncomfortable on camera and merely tolerant of the performance aspect of music, in order to write and record, Smith’s incredible songwriting ability and unique voice meant it was impossible for people not to sit up and listen.
The movie, perhaps wisely, decides not to dwell on the strange circumstances of his death and instead focuses on his life and his journey towards stardom. The story is told expertly, beginning with childhood and travelling from city to city as Smith’s family and friends recall the different stages of his artistic development. The cinematography is beautiful; sprawling and peaceful shots of Portland, New York, LA and other prominent locations in Smith’s life are set alongside intimate and revealing radio interviews with Smith. His words are few but filled with a significance that is synonymous with artists that died before their time.
Whether you’re a fan of Smith’s music or not, this movie is an accomplished example of a music documentary – beautiful in subject matter, cinematography and, of course, soundtrack. Tipping the balance between nostalgia and objectivity, friends, family and colleagues don’t try and sugarcoat the reality of loving someone with mental illness. Smith isn’t idolised, in contrast it is clear that it was his most human qualities that made him so relatable as a performer. Heaven Adores You isn’t trite, overblown or sickly sweet, but rather a study of a sensitive and complicated soul with an incredible talent.
Heaven Adores You is released nationwide on 7th May 2015.
Watch the trailer for Heaven Adores You here: