photo of grace jones sitting at her dressing table

Film Review: Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami follows Jones over an 8 year period as she travels the globe. Filmed by documentary movie-maker Sophie Fiennes, this work attempts to peer underneath the glittering persona Jones has crafted for decades.

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Grace Jones is a diva.  Not only that she’s an amazing artist who perfectly encompasses what that term means.  A multi-media star who has transcended all genres in pursuit of being as creative and unique as possible in a sea of mundanity. Not for her the predictable path of stardom, as Grace Jones has fiercely forged her own horizons.  Now at an age where others are content to put their feet up by the fire, Jones is still full of fiery passion for her craft.  Singer, actress, model, writer and incredible interview guest, Jones has done it all with aplomb.  What is she like as a person? On the surface she may seem frightening or standoffish but below lies a thoughtful soul as evidenced from her memoirs. 
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami follows Jones over an 8 year period as she travels the globe.  Born in Jamaica nearly 70 years ago, she became a model, then a singer at New York’s infamous Studio 54 nightclub.  Gradually she moved into acting with roles in ‘Conan the Destroyer’ and the James Bond movie ‘A View to a Kill’. Using her striking looks and fashion sense to their fullest, her movie roles have provided her with an iconic status still remaining.  Filmed by documentary movie-maker Sophie Fiennes, this work attempts to peer underneath the glittering persona Jones has crafted for decades.
Fiennes does a reasonable job in attempting to get under the skin of an enduring enigma.  Whilst her early life is mentioned, other areas of her image remain a mystery. Perhaps even when co-operating fully with the film Jones is reluctant to emotionally expose herself.  There are many times when she knows she’s being filmed with her gift in playing up for the camera easily seen.  In many respects it  is similar to  In Bed with Madonna – another biographical tour journey that ultimately revealed little of its subject.  What’s on offer is enticing although more background into her artistic choices and how her personal life influenced them would have made viewing more illuminating.
Although the film could have used some editing, it is generally captivating viewing.  This is especially true in the concert sequences which are incredible.  Her artistry and majesty in projecting the words to her songs is in full flight.  The costuming and staging is glorious and effectively conjures the power of her vocals and magnetic presence.  The movie really comes into its own in these sequences as well as glimpses of her personal life.  Her reactions to various musical mishaps are often hilarious and reveal an honesty not many similar documentaries have.  Although more personal depth would have been welcome, there is enough of the ‘real’ Grace Jones on display to get a handle on the chaotic life she leads.
A good documentary provides viewers with more knowledge of its subject than when it began.  Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami certainly does that.  Although the runtime could have been tighter with more background on her performing history, it’s solid enough viewing.  As evidenced from the movie, Grace Jones shows no sign of slowing down – which in this current climate of banal conformity comes as a merciful relief.
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami screened as part of the closing night spectacular for the Adelaide Film Festival.
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