Viewers will be forgiven for assuming that Berlin-based electronic musician Peaches’ concert film Peaches Does Herself is more than a little self-indulgent; after all, who could watch the first ten minutes, in which she sings songs exalting herself above all others, without thinking that? Fans of the performer’s outlandish stage antics – namely her playful sexual escapades – will find themselves right at home here, though others are likely to struggle with her overbearing shtick.
There’s little point denying the catchy appeal of Peaches’ music – one number conducted by light-powered synthesisers is simply magnificent – though the self-conscious flamboyance of the whole endeavour runs woefully low on steam long before the 80-minute run-time winds to a close. So keen is Peaches to provoke that in smacking so clearly of desperation, the opposite feeling is the result.
As Peaches walks around on stage with a prosthetic penis attached to her costume while dancing with a naked transexual, one quickly become exhausted and eventually must ask, “what’s the point?” Any shock factor dissipates within seconds because she simply doesn’t have enough material to support such a lengthy outing.
This goes a way to explain why there are several distended diversions in which the singer disappears for a costume change, the most excruciating of which sees a scantily clad, older woman enter the stage and begin stripping off even more. Whether the intent is to revolt or shock, it again becomes boring very quickly.
Peaches directed the film herself, and it shows; the coverage ranges from impressively psychedelic to flat-out amateur, with craning cameras failing to even frame the singer correctly in shot on numerous occasions.
Furthermore, the decision to keep the crowd at a distance is a huge mistake, keeping the atmosphere decidedly low-key, and even making it seem like most of the film might have been shot at a rehearsal (the crowd are seen for perhaps 10 seconds in the entire film). Even when it aims for meta humour during the finale, the point falls curiously flat because, again, Peaches labours the point so hard that the joke isn’t at all funny anymore.
Catchy tunes won’t be enough to propel this outside the realm of the strictly initiated.
Peaches Does Herself premieres at Sundance London on April 26th.
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