14th October 2017 3.30pm at Picturehouse Central
15th October 2017 3.00pm at Vue West End
A star of the 1960s arts scene, a Velvet Underground singer and Andy Warhol muse, 48-year-old Christa Päffgen (nicknamed Nico) is portrayed during the last two years of her life in the intriguing recreated biopic Nico 1988, by Susanna Nicchiarelli.
Called “Lou Reed’s femme fatale”, flashbacks to the 60s show the singer’s friendships with the likes of Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, and her stints in films like Warhol’s Chelsea Girls and Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. But Nico (Trine Dyrholm) declines to discuss the Velvet Underground with interviewers, as she feels her life began after that period. A free spirit, she doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. Her view of fame is dismissive: “I’ve been on top; I’ve been on the bottom – both are empty”. Her earliest memories of bombings in Berlin inspire her creativity, a desire to translate the feeling of it to music.
The singer’s greatest regret is having surrendered her child Ari (unacknowledged son of actor Alain Delon) as a young woman because of her crazy lifestyle. Reunited with him in the present, Ari (Sandor Funtek) is a depressed, suicidal young man, but taking him on tour with her helps lift his morale. Clearly her love for her child is the only thing that has any true meaning for her.
Nico is a heroin addict. Speaking of the 60s: “We took a lot of LSD – that was what we did”. While on tour, casual insouciance about drugs is displayed in a darkly humorous moment: having secretly entered Communist Czechoslovakia for a gig, and reluctant to be there, Nico insists her manager (John Gordon Sinclair) ask their go-between – who illegally arranged their concert – to find heroin for her. Nico’s music is sombre, she calls her floundering band useless junkies – but on that clandestine stage in Prague, where an explosively ecstatic crowd welcomes her, their love for her is like lightening. Transformed, Nico comes alive – a passionate, luminous artist, reborn.
Dynamic camerawork and creatively succinct editing create a gritty, textured vision of the 80s music world and Nico’s emotional candour. The artist’s reworked songs are in singer/actor Dyrholm’s own voice and her acting is superb and very real. As her love-stricken manager, Sinclair’s performance is strong. Under skilled direction, all the actors impress. Nico 1988 is a compelling expose of an intriguing icon.
Nico, 1988 does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Nico, 1988 here: