Heaven Adores You review – adoring Elliott Smith doc will purr for fans

Nickolas Rossi’s documentary drifts past the late singer’s drug addiction and troubled life, but captures his fragile, romantic side

A gentle, aimless documentary about singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, who died from self-inflicted knife wounds to the heart in 2003. Kickstarted into life, Nickolas Rossi’s film will purr for Smith devotees, but is exasperatingly incurious about anything but the majesty of the man and his music. Smith, who was yanked into the mainstream by celebrity fans and an Oscar nomination (for the song Miss Misery from Good Will Hunting), found fame difficult. He wrestled with drug addiction, and in the grip of it could be foul to his friends. The coroner’s report on his death returned an open verdict; some even claimed he was murdered. Most of this mucky stuff is drifted past. Instead, we get solemn, lovely tributes to the talent from solemn, lovely souls who aren’t particularly good interviewees, along with oodles of handsome establishing shots of Portland, New York and LA, the cities that Smith called home. Heaven Adores You prizes beauty over story, and the art over the life. There was a romantic, fragile side of Smith, and it’s the only one we see.

Watch a trailer for Heaven Adores You – video


Henry Barnes

The GuardianTramp

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