Face Addict (tbc)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/08/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 102 mins

Bertoglio's documentary is an enjoyable nostalgia trip and it's intriguing to catch up with the various survivors, but the pretentious narration wears thin after a while.

What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Italian fashion photographer Edo Bertoglio (who worked for Interview Magazine in the early 1980s), Face Addict is a personal portrait of the Downtown Scene in New York, the artistic community that included the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Jim Jarmusch, Deborah Harry, John Lurie and Andy Warhol. Throughout the film, Bertoglio cuts between archive footage and photographs, while interviewing survivors such as Deborah Harry, Wendy Whitelaw, Glenn O'Brien and John Lurie.

Bertoglio also dedicates a portion of the film to his friend Walter Steding, an artist and musician who's an obvious drug casualty of the time and now lives out of a storage container and spends his time wandering the streets of New York.

The Good
The interview sections are fascinating, particularly as everyone was doing so many drugs back in the ‘70s and ‘80s that they can barely remember what they were doing themselves. The fact that Bertoglio himself was part of the scene means that his subjects see him as a friend, so their reminiscences are that much more candid, particularly in the case of Deborah Harry, Wendy Whitelaw (who moved away from the scene and now lives in Detroit) and John Lurie (who gives Bertoglio a rare interview and is extremely amusing).

Where the film also scores highly is in the huge amount of archive footage and photographs (unsurprising, given Bertoglio's profession). Indeed, the film is worth seeing purely for the cable TV footage of a young and beautiful Debbie Harry demonstrating the pogo stick.

The Bad
That said, Bertoglio's pretentious narration eventually becomes irritating. It's also hard to watch the scenes with Steding because you're unsure how you're meant to feel – does Bertoglio want us to pity his friend or admire the fact that he's still going?

Worth seeing?
Face Addict is definitely worth seeing, but it helps if you're at least partially familiar with the scene in the first place.

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Content updated: 19/10/2017 08:10

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