Monday, August 2, 2010

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work - ***1/2

When I first heard about this Joan Rivers documentary, I instantly wrote a one-line review of it in my head... It went something like this: Why would someone ever choose Joan Rivers as the subject of a feature-length film. Who would ever want to look at her face for ninety minutes, let alone listen to that obnoxious, scratchy voice?

My first impression walking out of that Joan Rivers documentary: Holy shit! A movie that actually made me care about Joan Rivers!

My image of Rivers has always been that annoying superficial red carpet commentator that she was sucked into being for so long, but what I never realized about her, and one of the first things made clear in Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work is that maybe she doesn't actually like being that person... "You think I like going out there and talking to those assholes!" Apparently not. The film portrays the vulnerable side of a comedian and, to an even greater extent, the way show business warps good intentions and promising beginnings into annoying, superficial red carpet commentators, desperate for a gig, shown most effectively in a sequence in which Joan goes up against daughter, Melissa, on Celebrity Apprentice, and acknowledging the sadness of actually having to place importance on such a triviality. Though if that doesn't interest you, it's worth seeing if only to discover, or to remind yourself, that Joan Rivers is actually really funny.

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