Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

I have been anticipating the viewing experience of this film for quite some time. All the reviews were so positive. The movie was being plugged everywhere. It was a constant attack of Joan Rivers, left and right. After watching the film, it all makes sense. This woman is an industry. Joan Rivers is a product. And, she is very much aware of this. Joan Rivers understands the importance of lasting and the amount of work one must put into lasting.

A Piece of Work is very much a mediocre documentary. We are given glimpses of Joan Rivers' life. There are things I didn't know: a Joan Rivers' talk show?, a made-for-TV film about the suicide of her husband?, and the real reason for the fall out between Rivers and Carson. While the film gives us all these details, it doesn't quite give us enough details. There must be a lot of juicy back story to the life of Joan Rivers, right? Or, is this really her life?

At one point, Melissa Rivers reveals how shy her mother truly is. At another point, it is mentioned how comics lack confidence. Is Joan Rivers shy and uncomfortable with herself? Is Ms. Rivers really just an angry, depressive, aging woman? I think this might be what we are expected to believe. Kind of. We're supposed to be aware of how hard working Joan Rivers is. We're meant to see she is a tough cookie. But, there is a soft side revealed. A dark side. A personal side. This isn't easy for everyone to reveal.

Is this a real documentary? Or, is it slightly staged? Joan Rivers claims she is an actress. Is this her greatest performance? A portrait of an artist in need of a career boost? She is honest about how much she needs constant income. She reveals how much money she spends on employees, family, her house. Everything is out in the open. But, we might not be seeing her entire personality.

We are never once shown a Joan Rivers meltdown. Never once shown Joan Rivers have a full diva fit. She says they exist. But, why don't we see them? We are only shown a woman afraid of fading from the lime light and fading from life. A woman so afraid of death that she is constantly on the move. Steps ahead of death.

I am not sure we are ever given a full portrait of Joan Rivers. But, this is a very fun and interesting film.


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