HIT SO HARD
Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death of Patty Schemel is a documentary about the life of Patty Schemel, the gay red-headed drummer from 90s Courtney Love-fronted grunge band, Hole.
The towering personalities of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love cast long, dominating shadows over the legacy of grunge, but this film shows that a there was a whole cast of equally screwed-up, equally talented characters knocking around Seattle in the early to mid 90s.
This film would not have been made if were not for the survival of some home videos, recorded by Schemel herself. These videos capture Hole’s hedonistic tour-bus antics, as well as footage of Cobain and Love at home with their baby daughter, Frances, in the months before Cobain’s suicide. These recordings undoubtedly have a certain voyeuristic appeal but the footage runs out pretty quickly, leaving us only with Schemel’s story to hold our attention. Her life has certainly been colourful but one can’t help but wonder whether it is quite remarkable enough to warrant a full feature length documentary. It is unclear what distinguishes her from the hundreds of other rock stars who have enjoyed meteoric success, only to spontaneously combust upon re-entry to the atmosphere.
The documentary ends up feeling like an extra on a concert DVD. It also assumes significant prior knowledge regarding Hole and Nirvana, Kurt and Courtney. The documentary doesn’t, for example, tell us whether or not Kurt Cobain was already famous at the time the video recordings were made. Nor does it tell us how any of them met, or what the relations between the surviving members of Hole are like now.
All things considered, this is one for serious grunge fans only.