You thought Kurt and Courtney had issues? Wait till you see the sordid story of Hole drummer, Patty Schemel…
Widely regarded as one of the greatest female drummers of the '90s, Patty Schemel has been described as consistent, proficient and impassioned by her peers. In 1994, she left her nine-to-five gig at Microsoft to become stickswoman for grunge band Hole, fronted by the first lady of rock, Courtney Love.
During her time in Hole, Schemel toured the world and confronted life as a gay artist. By the time she was 27, she was dabbling in drugs, and at her lowest ebb was living on the streets as a crack-addicted prostitute. Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel charts her tumultuous journey into and out of the spotlight.
P David Ebersole’s documentary is a hodgepodge of behind-the-scenes clips from Hole’s heyday alongside interviews with those who witnessed Schemel’s toxic addictions first-hand and have lived to tell the tale. The documentary plays like a visual scrapbook: from Courtney Love giving her slurred two-cents on Schemel’s story to fleeting handheld shots of Kurt Cobain holding his baby, scenes are cut together harshly, resulting in a narrative sweep that feels a tad rough around the edges. Although the cut-and-paste fanzine aesthetic lends itself to capturing these choice moments of ’90s rock history.
Sprinkled around this tale of textbook rock debauchery are pertinent discussions regarding Schemel’s role as a gay musician, and the influence that feminism and lesbian culture had on the grunge movement. Unfortunately, these discussions are over too quickly and, in this case, sex gets eclipsed by the more salacious topics of drugs and rock 'n' roll. Hit So Hard brings together a grown-up group of Generation Xers who lost years – and in some cases, lives – to the tempting escape of drugs.
While missing the mark when it comes to telling a well paced and balanced story, Ebersole’s documentary certainly has the ability to shock, and uses its ill-starred heroine as a juicy case study to answer the question of what really happens to a burnt out rock star after they’ve lost everything.
Hit so-so hard.