Patti Smith: Dream of Life (2008)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Elegiac and personal, Patti Smith: Dream of Life paints an enduring and sometimes rough portrait of the titular chanteuse, complete with footage onstage and at home.


Movie Info

This film is an intimate portrait of the poet-musician, Patti Smith.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Musical & Performing Arts, Documentary
Directed By:
Written By: Steven Sebring
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 13, 2009
Runtime:
Palm Pictures - Official Site

Cast


as Vocals and clarinet

as guitars

as guitars

as bass and vocals
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Critic Reviews for Patti Smith: Dream of Life

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (17)

For all its transient black-and-white beauties, denies its subject the sort of solid context that would reveal the scale of her achievements. A patchy, frustrating, though loving tribute.

Full Review… | December 5, 2008
Time Out
Top Critic

That spirit of encountering the world with undying artistic curiosity -- and without a plan -- informs Dream of Life, a drifting portrait of Smith.

Full Review… | October 23, 2008
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

If you don't already own "Horses," this movie will make you want to go out and buy it. You'll also want to start surfing the Internet to fill in the blanks that Dream of Life fails to include.

Full Review… | October 17, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

There's a note of mourning in this otherwise celebratory film -- for punk rock, for New York, for reality, for a time when popular music was animated by something other than money.

Full Review… | October 17, 2008
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Dream of Life barely hints at the transformational energy that Smith exudes in person, but it does paint a portrait of a defiantly creative life.

Full Review… | September 26, 2008
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Patti Smith: Dream of Life, fashion photographer Steven Sebring's impressionistic study of the most influential of punk poets, disarms and charms with its honesty.

Full Review… | September 26, 2008
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Patti Smith: Dream of Life

½

Speaking as a long-time Patti Smith fan, I was disappointed with this documentary. She and director Steven Sebring -- who worked on the film for 11 years -- were obviously bent on avoiding the usual format of performance clips and fan/musician testimonies, but their own route can be unbearably heavy-handed and pretentious. For every one endearing, human scene (Patti bantering at her parents' house, warming up voices with her band or discussing awkward urination with Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea), there are five dreary passages of incidental footage mixed with ponderous narration and poetry. Smith is consumed with death -- understandable, considering the long list of friends and lovers she has lost (her husband, her brother, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Sohl, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and more) -- but her endless elegies and solemn gravesite visits turn repetitive and verge on self-parody. We gain zero insight into her creative process or history as recording musician, and an attempted acoustic crooning of Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" is an embarrassing reveal of her paltry guitar skills. There is one wholly magical moment, however -- a relaxed, domestic Patti singing to her cat as she lovingly teases it with her hand. This can't be missed. But on the whole, you're better off reading her recent memoir, "Just Kids."

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

Made over a ten year period, "Patti Smith - Dream of Life" is not a film recommended for newcomers to the work of the artist, activist, poet and accidental rocker. There is just a little biographical information dispensed early on which is not as much as I recall from a Robert Mapplethorpe biography I read some years ago. In this book, some of her friends were worried by her marriage to Fred Smith, move to Detroit and sudden domesticity, cutting her off from many of them. Regardless, she grieves for her dead husband deeply, along with Mapplethorpe who she was close to and modeled for. In fact, the tone of the documentary is somber as Smith looks back on all the people gone from her life, reinforcing my image of her as a designated mourner, especially after the recent death of her friend Jim Carroll. In any case, her life moves continually forward, making the raucous rendition of her band playing "My Generation" very ironic. Unfortunately, there is also the pissing contest...

Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Filmed over ten years, mostly in black and white, this documentary shows scenes from Patti Smiths life, family and friends and tours. She stands in vivid contrast to the pretty-girl -pop music business, and her intelligence, political awareness and way with words come out strongly, as does her loyalty to friends, and her responsibility as a parent. Very interesting, and definitely worth a watch.

lesleyanorton
Lesley N

Super Reviewer

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