This Is Not Me: An intimate portrait of an attempted comeback
by Giampietro Balia
- KARLOVY VARY 2017: Slovakian documentarian Miro Remo follows famous Slovak singer Richard Müller as he tries to step back into the spotlight
Screening in the Documentary Competition of the 52nd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, This Is Not Me [+see also:
interview: Miro Remo
film profile] is the latest work helmed by controversial Slovakian documentarian Miro Remo, who, over a span of three years, followed famous Slovakian singer Richard Müller in order to document his daily struggles as he tried to revive his career. With over 300 hours of new and home-video footage shot by Müller himself to choose from, Remo dissects the singer’s past and present in an up-close and personal portrait of the most successful star of the Czech and Slovak pop-rock scenes in the 1990s.
Overweight, depressed and uninspired, Müller looks nothing like the energetic idol that took the music scene by storm when he and the other half of pioneering band Banket, Martin Karvaš, released the hit-laden album Bioelektrovízia. His current condition is the result of a dramatic decline caused by a frenetic lifestyle involving addiction and psychological issues. He now wants to do anything and everything necessary to be on top again, but regaining a fan base and prestige requires a strict routine, developing a new catalogue to make an impression in today’s market, and finding the physical and psychological endurance to perform live on stage. But his voice is not the same, and nor is his body. As Müller struggles to make his name relevant again through interviews, TV appearances and awards ceremonies, director Remo intersperses this with home-video footage shot by Müller himself, seamlessly integrated in the edit. This archive footage introduces the secondary – and probably the most intimate – storyline in the documentary: a lengthy but immersive portrayal of the past relationship between the artist and his ex-wife, Soňa Müllerová.
What comes out of This Is Not Me is a never-before-seen, unsettled Richard Müller with all his vulnerability and ghosts from the past that still haunt him. This factually exhaustive documentary is inevitably a scathing take on the music industry, with all its excesses and deceitfulness. Müller fell victim to his own fame, and far from putting him on a pedestal, Remo focuses on the man who cottoned on to the downward spiral his life was becoming, and who is now trying to spin himself out of it. The factors that caused his decline when he was at his peak now seem to be gone, but the question still remains as to whether Müller will find the perseverance he needs to get back on his feet and stay relevant.
This Is Not Me will certainly charm the artist’s numerous fans, but it faces the challenge of proving it can cross the borders of Richard Müller’s homeland and appeal to an international audience. The film was produced by Punkchart Films and Endorfilm, and is being distributed by the Asociace českých filmových klubů.
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