Hit So Hard (N/A)

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The ViewDunedin Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/11/2012

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 103 mins

Packed with never-before-seen footage and revealing interviews, this is an entertaining and ultimately powerful and moving rockumentary that's something of a must-see for fans of grunge music and remains equally enjoyable for newcomers.

What's it all about?
Directed by P. David Ebersole, Hit So Hard (subtitle: The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel) is a rockumentary detailing drummer Patty Schemel's time with 90s grunge band Hole and her subsequent battle with (and recovery from) drug addiction. The film is told primarily through to-camera interviews with Patty herself, illustrated with tonnes of home movie footage (shot by Schemel on a Hi-8 camera, mostly around the time of the 1994-95 Live Through This world tour), archive material and various talking head interviews including: band members Courtney Love Cobain, Melissa Auf der Maur and Eric Erlandson; contemporary female punk/grunge drummers such as Gina Schock and Debbi Peterson; and family members, such as Patty's mum Terry and her brother Larry.

The film traces Patty's story through her discovery of drum-playing and her early bands to a friendship with Kurt Cobain (who at one time wanted her to be the drummer for Nirvana) that ultimately led to her joining Hole alongside founder members Courtney Love and Eric Erlandson. Though the band enjoyed great success (during which Schemel came out, in an interview with Rolling Stone, instantly becoming both gay icon and role model in the process), the tragic deaths of both Kurt Cobain and original Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff prompted Schemel to seek help for her own drug addiction. She eventually left the band in 1997 and spent the next few years in and out of rehab, before finally getting clean in the mid 2000s, getting married and devoting her life to a dog-care business and mentoring young musicians.

The Good
Schemel is a likeable character who's both funny and engagingly candid in her interviews and it's a real pleasure to see her visible happiness in having made it through to where she is now, well aware of the fact that things could have been very different. Her fellow band members are equally revealing, while her mother turns out to be a real gift to the film and it's genuinely moving to see the evident love, pride and support in their relationship.

The Great
Alongside some superb concert clips that really capture the energy of the band, the film is notable for its wealth of terrific never-before-seen home movie footage, including several sequences of Kurt and Courtney clowning around with new baby Frances Bean and some often hilarious backstage moments (e.g. Patty and Melissa giggling and jokingly expressing their frustration with Courtney), as well as some disturbing moments that clearly illustrate just how strung out Patty was at the time.

Worth seeing?
Hit So Hard is an engaging and enjoyable rockumentary that's well worth seeking out, whether you're a die-hard grunge fan or a total newcomer.

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Content updated: 24/02/2019 10:16

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