SIFF 2011: Hit so Hard **1/2

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on May 22, 2011)

“J. H. Mascis on a Popsicle stick,” I thought to myself around 20 minutes into Hit So Hard, an alt-rockumentary about the travails of Hole drummer Patty Schemel “this isn’t going to be another one of those glorified episodes of VH-1’s Behind the Music…is it?” But once I realized that VH-1 doesn’t hold the patent on rags-to-riches-to-rags tales about musicians who self-sabotage promising  careers via self-destructive behaviors, I relaxed and just went with the flow.

Writer-director P. David Ebersole has rendered a candid portrait not only of his subject (a feisty, outspoken yet endearingly self-effacing woman who is sort of a punk-rock version of Tatum O’Neal) but of the fertile Seattle grunge scene that exploded in the early 90s. Schemel was a close family friend of that scene’s power couple-so we also get an intimate glimpse at the home life of the two-headed beast that was Kurt and Courtney (and more than enough of the post-Kurt Courtney).  Ebersole’s film feels a bit unfocused  at times, but will definitely be of great interest for Hole and/or Nirvana fans.

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