Nico Icon

A watchable if at times irritating 1995 German documentary by Susanne Ofteringer about the German-born model-actress-singer Nico, best known for her association with Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground. What’s irritating is the procession of talking heads who clearly know little about Nico but like sounding off about her anyway, presumably for their own glory (it seems that many of those who knew her best, such as filmmaker Philippe Garrel, declined to be interviewed); the result is that no clear sense of who she was ever emerges. As in the portrait of Chet Baker in Let’s Get Lost, the romantic fetishizing of a heroin addict’s doom often serves to fill in the blanks, and, as with Jean Seberg, the impulse to read Nico like a Rorschach test often proves to be all-determining, ensuring that the real person remains in hiding. But the period footage and the gossipy details are interesting; we learn, for instance, that she introduced her son by Alain Delon to heroin. Other people interviewed include Tina Aumont, John Cale, Jonas Mekas, Paul Morrissey, Billy Name, Lutz Ulbrich, and Viva. (JR)

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