Peter Doherty: Stranger in My Own Skin
Pete Doherty, frontman of The Libertines and Babyshambles, has spent a large part of his life in tabloid headlines for his drug-fuelled rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, prison sentence and relationship with Kate Moss. Documentary Peter Doherty: Stranger in My Own Skin (directed by Doherty’s wife, Katia DeVidas) explores the musician’s struggle with addiction over the years. While the film presents an intimate insight into Doherty’s life, DeVidas purposefully omits huge chunks of his story. The result is an intriguing but incomplete portrait of the iconic rock star.
Like most music documentaries, Stranger in My Own Skin begins with a segment about its subject’s early years and rise to fame. From here, Doherty’s life and career are put on fast forward as the timeline whizzes through the next decade, skimming over the formation of The Libertines and prison sentence. Archive footage of live performances and interviews act as ellipses between each bullet point of his narrative. Without going into further detail about the events of his life (much of the retrospect comes in the form of onscreen notes from Doherty), whilst skipping over key elements like his relationship with his wife, parents and bandmates, the documentary never allows audiences to get too close to the subject. By keeping him at arm’s length throughout most of the runtime, Doherty’s life and artistic methods are as much of a mystery at the end of the doc as they were at the start.
However, by ensuring that audiences remain detached from the musician, Stranger in My Own Skin succeeds in providing a candid window into the singer’s drug addiction. Scenes where Doherty speaks openly and honestly to his wife about his fears and anxieties, alongside pieces of footage that offer glimpses into the mess that he lives in, allow audiences to understand the artist on a level that the conventional talking head format couldn’t achieve. It’s in these moments where the film is at its finest.
An unconventional documentary, Stranger in My Own Skin isn’t a retelling of Pete Doherty’s life story. Rather, it’s a snapshot of what it’s like to live with a drug addiction. It’s not a complete retreading of his past, but it’s nevertheless a fascinating and touching exploration of the film’s subject matter.
Peter Doherty: Stranger in My Own Skin is released nationwide on 9th November 2023.
Watch the trailer for Peter Doherty: Stranger in My Own Skin here: