REVIEW: ‘Grace Jones – Bloodlight and Bami’

Opening with the pregnant strings of ‘Slave to the Rhythm’, we are immediately placed squarely in the crosshairs of the statuesque behemoth that is Grace Jones. Her face obscured by a mask that is eventually removed to reveal that iconic guise to match that archetypal body. Set in the modern day and featuring no archive footage, filmmaker Sophie Fiennes keeps Jones squarely in the public consciousness but also almost certainly apart from it. Recognising the singers’ special ‘one-off’ nature.
She never really talks of her ‘art’ in an all encompassing manner, instead letting her raw performances do the explaining. Semi-autobiographical songs are observed in a studio setting without any need for over-emotive explanation other than bare vocals sang with directness and punch. Live performance cut aways let the weight of the song inform the audience of their importance in popular culture rather than utilising ‘talking head’ style shots to hype and provide background that lazier documentaries tend to rely on. Suave silhouetted shots during these performances also tell us that despite being a woman in her 60s, she still retains the same androgynous form that beguiled a world of photographers and artists in the seventies.

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Nothing seems off-limits in these 155 minutes. She loses her temper, drinks, eats and parties without apology for greed or decadence. She is a mother, ex-lover, grandmother and friend that directly juxtaposes her onstage persona of the cold storyteller of often harsh reality, her reality. She addresses the camera with honesty and never tells Fiennes to stop filming but it never once feels like a ‘warts and all’ feature. Grace Jones has far too much class for that. It’s a glimpse into the world of a never to be repeated again legend that leaves you wanting more. It’s all in the music anyway.

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