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I Am Divine Reviews

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Sam B

Super Reviewer

July 26, 2014
A thorough and compassionate exploration of an enigmatic yet wonderfully eccentric individual, I Am Divine has plenty to say about identity, fame, and self-respect.

Super Reviewer

July 17, 2014
The life of Glen Milstead, from a chunky effeminate nerd who got beat up at school to the iconic, outrageous and obscene 300 lb drag queen Divine, the main attraction in John Waters' transgressive early comedies. The reverential interviews and clips meet, but don't exceed, your expectations for a documentary about Divine.

Super Reviewer

July 10, 2014
Very good documentary on famed drag queen Divine, featuring well conducted interview with those who knew him and worked with him, this is an entertaining film, one that is quite different than your normal documentary because of its subject, and it's quite refreshing as well. For its run time, I Am Divine is quite entertaining and it's a documentary that is entertaining from start to finish. Although good, I found the film a bit lacking because it's for me a bit too short for a documentary and it feels like it rushes too fast with its subject. Despite this, I Am Divine is good for what it is, and for viewers interested in the Divine, I guess that this will surely appeal to viewers who have enjoyed John Waters' work as well As fans of Divine. For what it is, it's a good documentary, but to be honest, I expected a bit more as well. The film manages to go into its subject well enough to establish who is Divine, but you are left wanting a bit more as well. Nonetheless, the interviews are well done, and there are enough effective moments in this documentary to warrant a recommendation, but for those interested in the famed drag queen, this may or may not offer what you're looking for. I Am Divine is entertaining, bizarre and well crafted, but at times it could have been better than what is presented here. I enjoyed the film, but I wanted more as well. But as a whole, for fans of Divine, this is well worth seeing despite its shortcomings.
Christian C

Super Reviewer

September 8, 2013
A great documentary about a fascinating and outrageous subculture. Won Best Documentary at Q-
Fest Long Beach 2013. Interviews with everyone you could possibly want to hear from in Divine's life. A must-see documentary.
August 25, 2014
A fantastic documentary based on the life of Harris Glenn Milstead (who was known to the world as Divine)! Very informative on both his public and private life!
July 18, 2014
A very well made documentary chronicling the life of the brilliant Divine. Extremely well made, this offers an in depth look at his life from his early years to his untimely death. Featuring interviews from close family and friends and stock footage from his early films, it is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and even bring a tear to your eye. Well worth watching.
August 7, 2014
This doc was surprisingly poignant and touching, but reaffirmed my belief that John Waters is completely insane (in the best way possible, of course). Now I need to go watch "Pink Flamingos" and "Female Trouble" again...
July 23, 2014
It taught me more about a subject I already knew a lot about, which is what a documentary is supposed to do.
August 1, 2014
This was a really fascinating documentary. If you loved Divine and his life this movie is great!
Sam B

Super Reviewer

July 26, 2014
A thorough and compassionate exploration of an enigmatic yet wonderfully eccentric individual, I Am Divine has plenty to say about identity, fame, and self-respect.
January 18, 2014
A wonderful documentary for anyone that has ever enjoyed a Divine movie. It is truly a work of art, just like the subject of the documentary.
July 18, 2014
The actor/singing/pop phenomenon Divine is the subject of this terrific new biographical film--but it's also NOT a film for everyone. After all, Divine's persona was offensive and on the fringe--and deliberately so. And so, if you can handle it, this documentary will be a treat.

Glen Milstead was a seemingly unremarkable kid. After all, he grew up in the rather unglamorous city of Baltimore and there was little about his early years that would indicate he'd be world famous by his incredibly premature death at age 42. But, from this humble beginning somehow sprang one of the most outrageous stars of the 1970s and 80s...and this film is his story.

Not surprisingly, the film begins with a lengthy discussion of his childhood and early adulthood. Much of this was provided by his mother, Frances, but many friends contributed as well. However, in his late teens, the sorts of friends he began associating with changed dramatically. Up until then, he'd been a rather nerdy, chunky kid with a long-time girlfriend who was also secretly gay---and with few other friends. However, when he met up with John Waters and the rest of his bizarre group of friends, Glen soon transformed himself. Some of the transformation involved drugs and parties, but the most outrageous change was his creation of a character Waters christened 'Divine'. And Divine began appearing in a lot of super-cheap, offensive and weird underground films by Waters. At first, no one noticed because no one was ready for such strangeness. But, slowly, the character's impact began to grow. How it went from playing in super 8mm films to a world- wide star is the subject of the rest of the film. I could say more, but frankly it's better if you just see the film.

The documentary, fortunately, is not just a list of his screen credits and discussion of his films, but talks about his stage and music career as well. Additionally, it shows a lot of genuine affection for Glen from all his friends, co-workers and mother. And, about the part of him that was sad--the part that ate compulsively to fill some unfilled void. This portion was actually quite touching--and let you know that off-screen and off-stage, he was very little like his insane persona, Divine.

So, why is this a film that I recommend that most of you don't see? Well, first it's so incredibly offensive--mostly because Divine was a deliberately offensive character. She curses, make a lot of crude remarks about sex and is a walking horror show in the film. If you got the joke--it is great. But many will simply be offended--especially when they talk about what he did at the end of the film "Pink Flamingos"! As a fan of Divine who has seen him/her in just about everything (including most of the old 8mm films), I adored I Am Divine and was thrilled to hear about Glen and Divine's successes...and oddness. I also have very thick skin and a love of weird films--and Divine's are a very strange assortment of movies--to put it mildly! If you are already a fan, this film is for you!! It's better than the other biographical documentary, "Divine Trash"--mostly because it just seems a lot more complete. Plus, it's so well made and informative--and it's exactly what his fans will love. If you are not, watch at your own risk!! In fact, I recommend in this case you do some film watching BEFORE you watch this bio. Start with his LAST film (the original "Hairspray") and work your way backwards!! Then, after you've become thoroughly indoctrinated (if you can make it that far because they get weirder and more offensive the farther you go), then try seeing "I Am Divine"! Seriously. Otherwise a lot of the character and folks' love of him/her just might make a lot of sense as you see this documentary and its weirdness might not make any sense. Don't say I didn't warn you!!

This film is currently available streaming through Netflix as well as for sale from many sources including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
July 17, 2014
A rather touching portrait of the actor Divine charting his life from bullied schoolkid to acting sensation.
Filmed as a series of talking heads, he makes a very interesting subject. The consensus being what a lovely person he was behind the filthy persona.
A worthy documentary and a must see for John Waters fans.
October 18, 2013
Good Documentary but I don't think I really learned anything new!
July 16, 2014
As entertaining as it is heartbreaking, I AM DIVINE is a documentary about the life of one Harris Glenn Milstead who became known around the world as the drag icon known as DIVINE. Told by the people who knew him best, I AM DIVINE is a ride through Glenn/DIVINE'S life through the high's and low's until his tragic death just before his "big television break" guest starring on "Married with Children". I AM DIVINE grabs hold of you by the shirt collar and never let's go, leaving you at the end- very emotional and with that feeling that you have just witnessed something very special.
June 26, 2014

16 FEB 1988, Baltimore Maryland, at the Senator theatre, was the premiere of "Hairspray" and a simultaneous AIDS benefit. John Waters and Harris, Glen, Milstead sans his alter ego, "Divine," were the star attendees supported by many A-list celebs as well. This is a good place to start a documentary of the rich, stormy, sexy, and wild history of Divine. It was also considered a turning point as well as legitimizing a John Waters production by the "so-called" mainstream Hollywood standards. It's been a long road for the both of them who first met at 17 years old, doing a variety of independent, and counter culture projects. They didn't start out with dreams of big movie making deals rather, their efforts were purely for their own circle of influence. Only later, when friends and others liked these efforts, did this hobby develop into "Dreamland," an official production company.
Further flashbacks reveals Glen's life as a not quite "out of the closet" gay child growing up in an uber-homophobic, late 50's East Coast Baltimore suburbia. At school, he suffered brutal bullying. He tried to fit in with a dress code that evidently didn't fool a rather sophisticated Gaydar in this otherwise Ozzie and Harriet utopia. He even had a girlfriend who still remembers him fondly. Glen had a loving mother, supportive in some aspects, recognized Glen's love of pretty things, style, and fashion. The family was affluent enough to get young Glen his own hair salon. He was the most sought out hair stylist in the neighborhood. Thru overheard gossip of customers, his mother had further evidence of Glen's true id. However, she chose to bury her head in the sand about his orientation. After deciding to make his orientation official, as well as his vices, mother and child parted ways. Now Glen was fully engaged with his film projects and new life. It was Glen's brutal treatment that would serve John Waters and Glen well as the two went forward. John tapped into Glen's traumatic past and channeled the best and worst Divine had to offer. "Making lemonade from lemons" is always a mark of real genius. Divine became an underground Goddess with a body of work that included quite of few music albums. This was beyond the Waters/Glen partnership. Not because of any ill feelings, John just couldn't make a film every year to keep up with the growing demand for Divine. In fact John expressed his happiness for his friend's opportunities. Glen proved his versatility when he went mainstream as himself in 1985's "Trouble in Mind" with Kris Kristofferson. Able to play both female and male parts, he went back to drag in 1988's "Hairspray." Now established in two different cultures, he was set to play a male role in "Married with Children." However, he died the night before he was to begin work. He and his mother had fully reconciled just before this. She and others have good and bad memories but all loved him greatly.
These basics and greater details are told by excellent interviews with equally great stock footage denoting a well-researched and complete documentary.

Years ago I was never a hardcore Divine fan. Not because I disliked him. I just didn't venture down the path of counter culture. I vaguely recall glimpses and was somewhat interested. Then thanks to tremendously more age, slightly less ignorance, and Frys Electronics' vast DVD and Blu-Ray inventory, I recently got "Pink Flamingos." I became a fan instantly appreciating the counter-culture scope of Divine's performance. I appreciated the risks he and John Waters took considering a somewhat conservative time. Every one of the cast's performance was way ahead of society's acceptable norms as well. I enjoyed it enough to watch all the "behind the scenes" additional commentary provided by John Waters. Now enlightened, I put "Female Troubles," Polyester," "Lust in the Dust," "Trouble in Mind," and "Hairspray" on my wish list. I'm glad I didn't get them yet because my palate is better prepared and cleansed now to enjoy these features with this documentary. In fact, if you haven't seen these previous John Waters/Divine projects, I'm strongly suggesting this documentary as a necessary precursor. That is, if you're the type of patron who feels that knowing an actor's bio can enhance this enjoyment so much more (or less).
October 21, 2013
I'm a sucker for biographical documentaries, and this movie definitely delivered with a mostly balanced, interesting look at a larger-than-life personality.
June 2, 2014
All Harris Glenn Milstead wanted in life was to be a respectable actor because with that he'd have friends, a career and a family who supported and loved him. Growing up in 1950's Baltimore overweight and gay made that dream appear out-of-reach until Harris one day dressed in drag and was named "Divine" by iconic-schlock director John Waters. Although he'd worn dresses before, his life would NEVER be the same again after (fellow Baltimore native) Waters decided to make Divine a star. "I am Divine" is a thoughtful and entertaining documentary about the man who became (arguably) the most famous drag-performer in American pop-culture history. Through many ups and downs Divine always kept his dream of becoming a respected actor in serious films NOT typecast as his alter ego in drag who one time ate dog poop onscreen. He won critical praise in his one role -- Alan Rudolph's "Trouble in Mind" -- that gave him the opportunity to be a serious character actor but he loyally returned to working with Waters in their most well-known and respected project, Hairspray, soon after. Divine appears to be an outrageous, out-going personality; but "I am Divine" reveals the real Divine (Divine is a performer and is almost always acting) making me glad to have come across it. Divine most feared being misunderstood and if one only knows of the actor's oeuvre of films -- including Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Lust in the Dust and Polyester -- and refuses to try to understand a person who is a little/lot different than themselves ... it'll be his or her loss and not Divine's.
June 2, 2014
Before Rupaul, before Lady Bunny, there was Divine. As this documentary tells it Divine wasn't just a 300 pound drag queen, but a glamorous & transgressive symbol for everybody who ever felt like an outsider
May 2, 2013
Missed this at Cinetopia. A well done bio pic.
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