“Atmospheric biopic. Divas never fail to enthral”
This sincere, warm-hearted and, above all, honest biopic about Lou Reed’s muse and icon in the 1960s focuses on a period more than twenty years after Andy Warhol & The Velvet Underground. Actress Trine Dyrholm shines as the unique, tragic artist Christa Päffgen (better known as Nico) who was doomed to carry the burden of her past, but continued to believe in her own music. Winner of the Horizons Award (Venice Film Festival) and the Jury Grand Award (Les Arcs European Film Festival).
Her brief period with The Velvet Underground is a topic Christa does not wish to discuss. For her, life only really started after that glorious time. The biopic Nico, 1988 follows her during the last two years of her life, including international performances – some of them phenomenal, some embarrassing – as she tries to create a bond with her suicidal son and unashamedly injects heroin to pick herself up.
Ultimately, everything comes together on stage, where she and her band deliver an extremely intense set. An illegal concert in the former Czechoslovakia makes the hairs on your arm stand on end: goose bumps. We see an ecstatic Nico whipping up the audience like a true punk diva with the number ‘My Heart Is Empty’ and giving her all. The only live band that comes close to such intoxicating performances is Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Director Susanna Nicchiarelli neither judges Nico nor romanticizes her. What’s more, actress and singer Trine Dyrholm (Kollektivet, Festen) is fantastic as the uncompromising Christa/Nico. She presents her as being hard, but also vulnerable; sometimes sad, but never pathetic. You can’t help feeling empathy for this woman who carries on when others would have given up long ago.