directed by Emilio J. Ruiz
starring Elliott Murphy, Joana Preiss, Marisa Berenson
Remember “Rolling Stone”? Not the band, but the Godhead of Rock journalism from the 1970’s that held the power of selecting what new bands were stamped “Great” and which ones ought to slink off to oblivion? Seems it’s still around, and publisher Kathy Madison (Berenson) assigns reporter Meg (Preiss) to chase down a rumor. Forty years ago, rising start Jake Lion (Murphy) jumped into the Seine in Paris, never to be seen again. It was generally accepted the decayed corpse found a year later was his last remains, but Madison wonders. Joana begins the search in a funky NYC bar decorated with a stylish motorcycle gang out front, and clues creep into her story. Meg follows the clues to the home of Bruce Springsteen. Here Bruce and his wife Patti Scialfa add a few more facets, and while they are a bit wooden on camera, they add veracity to the story. Next it’s off to Paris for Meg. She left years ago and is unhappy to be back, but the “Paris in the Spring” sequence is pure travelogue eye candy. Here Meg finds a Metro busker who claims to be Lion’s brother. He’s crusty but very clean for a street musician and known to the other buskers as an excellent musician and well-rounded drunk. He’s been there a long time yet seems to lack the sort of paperwork France requires from American expatriates. Is this real Jake Lion, or is he an aging imposter? Meg meets Christy (Françoise Viallon), one of Jakes’ groupies, and hopes to set things straight. But it still takes Joana a trip in a 40 foot limo from Manhattan to Long Island to sort that out. And the result? Strangely flat.
There some solid but competent music here. Murphy’s busking is top notch and his concerts for pigeons is quite nice. A romance brews between Meg and one of her Paris contacts but leads nowhere important. As we unravel the mystery, writer and star Elliot Murphy muses on success. He’s had his share, and like all surviving rockers he debates “Was it worth it?” and “What have a I really accomplished?” The story line flows its best in Paris, with Meg’s sense of wonder propelling the action. The New York scenes seem clunky by comparison; exposition dumps are not handled cleanly, but you do get the facts you need. The ridiculously long limo Meg takes the middle class suburbia is the most pretentious thing I’ve ever seen on film, and it’s the purest “rock and roll” moment in the story. But despite these flaws, I like the people, and cinematographer Juanma Postigo shows both New York and particularly Paris at their best. The film was shot shortly before the Notre Dame fire, allowing this cathedral to act as an anchor to everyone wanderings. Romance, rock and roll, and beautiful back drops makes this an engaging mystery and another peek into the underbelly of pop music. These people gave their souls to make us dance.