Director-editor P. David Ebersole’s “Hit So Hard: The Life And Near Death Story of Patty Schemel” is a raucous documentary about a figure from the band Hole just as strong as notorious bandleader Courtney Love, drummer Patty Schemel. Schemel’s home movies, preserved as a carrying case of Hi-8 videotapes, provide pronounced muscle to the bone-hard construction of the film, illustrating more than one meaning to a familiar phrase: “live through this.” The video imagery is a profuse mess, unselfconsciously mirroring the slur-and-drang sound the band accomplished. Drug addiction is swept to the side by testimony to Schemel’s importance as a musician and as an openly lesbian rock ‘n’ roll figure. Emotionally raw, and with many thrilling moments, this is a near-tragedy of a life gone right. The contemporary interviews are sturdy and on point. Beware: there’s a surfeit of Courtney Love talking with her mouth so full. With Schemel, now sober and now a puppy-loving redhead life force. Love, Eric Erlandson, Melissa Auf der Maur, Gina Schock, Drew Barrymore, Roddy Bottum, Nina Gordon, Debbi Peterson, Phranc, Kate Schellenbach, Dallas Taylor, Sarah Vowell, Kurt Cobain. A lovely end-credit sequence of women reciting meaningful female drummers includes Jessica Hopper. 103m. (Ray Pride)
“Hit So Hard” opens Friday at Siskel
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.