Patti Smith: Dream of Life | Chicago Reader

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109 minutes

Steven Sebring spent a decade making this documentary about the punk poet, and it shows: any perspective he might have had going in obviously vanished by the time he assembled this endless valentine. Smith herself provides all the voice-over, which begins with a refreshingly simple biographical sketch but later tends toward recitation of verse—her own and others'—that's only vaguely linked to the on-screen action. Much of this consists of eulogies for late friends and mentors—Robert Mapplethorpe, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and especially her husband, the MC5's Fred "Sonic" Smith—which aren't nearly as interesting as the intimate glimpses of her retired parents, her cluttered home, and her relationship with her two children. Performance footage is minimal. If you're not a disciple, bring some knitting.

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