In the past, there have been a lot of musicians who have been controversial figures. With a stage to perform on they tend to say and do what’s on their minds. One of the most controversial is the singer from Dublin, Ireland Sinead O’Connor. With her abusive childhood and the issues, she has had with the Catholic Church and women’s rights she had a lot to say. Her music allowed her the opportunity and the motive to get on stage in America to say what she felt about all of this. With the world listening.
The documentary is pretty much the story of O’Connor’s life from when she was a child to her fall from grace after appearing on SNL quoting Bob Marley and tearing up a picture of the Pope on live television. In between, she had quite a controversial life. Her music allowed her to tell her story and get her message about all of these various topics out in the air. The whole time trying to live her life.
The Lion and the Cobra and Nothing Compare 2 U were her breakout albums and songs that made people aware of her over here in America. While her career was kicking off into high gear she was in a relationship with John Reynolds who she had a child with. This spurned her belief in women’s right to choose. She didn’t want to give the child up because of her burgeoning music career. It goes back to the days when she was a girl given up by her mother to a convent. The Catholic religion bore its ugly head then and later as well. Women all over Ireland fought for their rights to choose after this.
The film uses two distinct stylistic choices to tell O’Connor’s story. One is the use of voiceover for the entire film. This allows the second part to come in and that is archival footage. The entire film uses archival footage to tell her story. From concert performances to interviews with talk show hosts. Even some super 8 footage from her father was used to help tell her story. A framing device was also thrown in for good measure. I lived during her era of stardom so I saw a lot of this when I was a teen and young adult but many may not have.
I have a soft spot in my heart for those who have been abused growing up so O’Connor’s life as a child was something that tore me up inside. It was good that she still had a father to rescue her from the institute she was sent to as a child after her mother’s untimely death from a drug overdose. The voiceover from various men in her life talked about how she found music and wrote songs and eventually joined a couple of bands where she would meet her husband and some of her agents/representatives. Which would become some of her best and close friends.
O’Connor is known as a woman with an angelic voice but she also was a very closed-off person. This didn’t mean she didn’t care about things. One such instance about not conforming to what others wanted her to be was when she shaved her head out of protest. She wasn’t going to look like Madonna or Cindy Lauper or any of the other pop singers of the time. She wanted to look the way she wanted to and nobody could tell her any differently.
Nothing Compares is named after O’Connor’s biggest hit to date even though she has made many albums since this record has come out. It mainly talks about who she was as a woman she has become all these years later. She has never let all the controversy go to her head. That being said she has always stood up for what she believes even today. This film is an indication of who this woman really is and how she charged her country and the world in terms of women’s rights. Issues America is still dealing with today. She hadn’t been defined by her music even though it’s pretty damn good.
4 ½ stars
Dan Skip Allen
Showtime Theaters Sept 23rd -Sept 30th