Hit So Hard
Directed by P. David Ebersole
Hit So Hard has enough material for three movies but not the focus for one. By attempting to tell a story of history, politics and personal redemption, director P. David Ebersole loses the thread on each. There's a lot of intrigue, but not much insight.
The documentary's ostensible focus is Patty Schemel, one-time drummer for Courtney Love's influential grunge band Hole. In addition to telling her story—which tracks the ubiquitous music bio-pic arc of early success leading to drug addiction and recovery—Ebersole also wants to detail the whole of the grunge movement and consider the feminist pros and cons of overtly sexual female groups and the paucity of women rockers in general. That's a lot of ground to cover in the space of a single film.
Not to say each individual piece isn't interesting. Fans of the music will relish Schemel's treasure trove of home videos, which contain tantalizingly intimate glimpses of Kurt Cobain as well as unreleased music. But unfortunately those tapes stopped being recorded as Schemel descended into drugs, and there's a noticeable drop in interest as the most dramatic material is told with less dramatic talking heads. The story's most dramatic moment, when Schemel becomes a homeless crack addict, is especially undercut by the lack of scrutiny the episode receives, and Courtney Love deeming it hilarious.
Schemel is engaging and Hole is an important group worth discussing for reasons beyond its music, but there's too much going on here. There's not enough context where it counts, and Ebersole's not nearly critical enough of his subject, with the ending especially coming off like a campaign ad. Love, despite her garish makeup and obsessive eating of cookies in her interviews, comes off the best for her perspective and self-awareness. The film needs fewer details like the impact of lesbianism on grunge fashion and more like Schemel's mom still lamenting that her daughter gave up a job with Microsoft to play music. Hit So Hard doesn't hit nearly hard enough.
Opens April 13