Prey for Rock & Roll
Directed by Alex Steyermark. Starring Gina Gershon, Drea de Matteo, Lori Petty, Shelly Cole, Marc Blucas, Ivan Martin. (2003, R, 104 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Oct. 17, 2003
As a vehicle for Gina Gershon to strut her provocative stuff, Prey for Rock & Roll is a rock & roll fantasy come to life. Gershon plays Jacki, the about-to-turn-40 bisexual leader of an all-grrrl L.A. band named Clam Dandy. Although the band chases after a record deal and professional success, the road is hard going and Jacki mostly supports herself as a tattoo artist. And as she feels 40 closing in, she begins wondering if she hasn’t become something of a joke as she continues to hump her own amps and haul herself to band practice. She also is increasingly miffed at the undependable, drugged-out behavior of her trust-fund bassist Tracy (de Matteo, best known for her role on The Sopranos). The movie gets a lot of the flavor of its rock & roll milieu right, as it should since it’s adapted from rocker Cheri Lovedog’s autobiographical stage production (performed at CBGB’s). Also, it’s always welcome to see movies about post-ingenue women in show business – a subgenre that can hardly be said to be overdone (and when we do see the subject it’s often cast as a horror story à la Sunset Blvd., The Killing of Sister George, or What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, and even then the women are all actors, not rockers). Where Prey for Rock & Roll mostly stumbles is in its inclusion of a couple of melodramatic storylines that are nonessential and distracting. What we want to see is these women onstage, strutting and posturing and kicking out the jams. Instead, we become waylaid in dramatic sidelines that serve little purpose. As for the music, Gershon performs all her own vocals with an effective Eighties-style Chrissie Hyndes sneer. But the songs themselves, which are composed by Cheri Lovedog and arranged and produced by Stephen Trask (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), are less than compelling. That, in itself, creates a problem with the film’s credibility: Are we supposed to believe that Clam Dandy is a kick-ass band whose success has been stymied by bad luck and their unconventionality or is this really a mediocre band that doesn’t really deserve a record contract and world glory? Whether or not you enjoy the music will have a lot to do with your enjoyment of the movie and personal response to its intrinsic question: Should you give it up after so many years of banging your head against the wall, or should you heed the siren call of rock & roll until your life is all spent?