Janis: Little Girl Blue (2015) – movie review


Janis: Little Girl Blue is an American documentary directed by Amy J. Berg documenting the short life of Janis Joplin, one of the most celebrated singers of the 1960s.

It’s very hard for a documentary based on an interesting subject to fail. Without much effort, a documentary can still be quite interesting as long as the topic is. Some directors put in maximum effort and produce documentaries that inform with great quality (Inside Job for example) and then there are some documentaries that inform without speciality but also without flaw, like Janis: Little Girl Blue.

I am a huge fan of ’60s music, as shown by my iTunes library where ’60s rock occupies 60% of the capacity. But one ’60s rock icon I was never a particular fan of was Janis Joplin, the subject of this film.

Prior to my viewing, all I knew about Joplin was that she had an incredible voice and that she was a member of “The 27 Club” (musicians who died at the age of 27).

Since my viewing, I feel that I know everything there is to know about Janis.

With a runtime of 100 minutes, Janis: Little Girl Blue manages to successfully fit 27 years of information into one film. However there wasn’t that much information on Janis’s childhood that might’ve made the rest of the film more interesting. The film skims past her childhood in 2 minutes and then jumps into a well-researched perspective on her music career. I feel they could’ve added at least five more minutes to explain the troubles of her childhood, of which I now hear were aplenty.

The film doesn’t use regular narration to explore the life of Joplin as much as it uses the voices of her friends, whose interviews are played over footage and photos of her past, which is fairly standard for a documentary.

But what isn’t standard for a documentary is for letters written by the subject to be read out by an impersonator, a technique which Janis: Little Girl Blue employs to great results. A lot of the story is told through letters that Janis had written to her parents by her and are read out by Cat Power, a singer-songwriter whose voice is similar to Joplin’s.

The film is short (as is this review) and snappy which lets you reel in as much information as possible in as little a time frame and the narration really fooled me to believe that I was hearing Janis’s voice which I began to question halfway through the movie (thoughts along the lines of “Why would she read her own letters into a dictating machine?”).

Janis: Little Girl Blue may not hold anything special but it is informative, short and interesting. Exactly what a documentary needs to be.

What did you think of Janis: Little Girl Blue? Leave your comment on the side and don’t forget to follow my Instagram page for movie posters.


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