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A smart and complex portrait of Elliott Smith and his music, Heaven Adores You is neither fawning nor critical, but simply honest. The film is narrated through the memories of Smith’s closest friends and fellow musicians, supplemented with personal interviews conducted over the course of his career. Director and cinematographer Nickolas Rossi tracks the musician through life, tracing the fascinating trajectory of an artist finding his own unique sound. In later stages, the story turns to that of a passionate musician trying to protect himself and his creativity from the glare of fame. Throughout the story, the soundtrack cuts deep into the earliest stages of his career, before turning to rare versions of Smith’s most recognized work and a handful of previously unheard recordings.
This film is a must-see for anyone who’s been alone with Smith’s music, or has a soft spot for Heatmiser. It’s a love song to the artist, to his times (CDs and music on MTV) and to Portland, the city that grew him from punk roots to his signature acoustic style. Alongside the stellar soundtrack, the camera beautifully follows Smith’s footsteps through high school hallways, Portland’s rock clubs and drizzly streets, and finally to New York and Los Angeles. A tone is achieved through these images that mirrors the spirit found in the Elliott Smith’s music: something unvarnished, deeply personal, entrancingly beautiful. The lasting impressions Smith left behind are evident in the voices of the interviewees who knew him best. But for all their perspective, this portrait can't help but remain incomplete. The documentary's subject is both open and inscrutable: a brilliant musician to be embraced, and a person never to be fully understood.
Watch the trailer: http://nwfilmforum.org/live/page/calendar/3517