This disorganized biopic takes the late, Florida-born country-rock innovator and somehow turns him into a bit of a bore. The presence of crucial veterans like Emmylou Harris, Chris Hillman, Bernie Leadon, and Keith Richard helps, but mostly reminds you what this should have been.

This disorganized biopic takes the late, Florida-born country-rock innovator and somehow turns him into a bit of a bore. The presence of crucial veterans like Emmylou Harris, Chris Hillman, Bernie Leadon, and Keith Richards (gasping for air, as usual) helps, but mostly reminds you what this should have been. If a long-planned biopic ever gets made, this will be quickly forgotten. But it will fill a broadcast niche until then.

Material here feels random, contradictory and amateurishly presented, right down to the weak narration (in English). Repetitive use of archival clips is annoying, as is insistence on shooting old photos right through the framed glass on family member’s mantlepieces. Still, German director Gandulf Hennig, working from biographer Sid Griffin’s text, does dig up enough musical treasure to keep fans and neophytes intrigued, if not satisfied. And a psychological portrait does gradually emerge — that of a neglected trust-fund baby who never quite found his feet. Parsons’ strange end, with his body half burned in California desert, is handled somewhat anticlimactically.

Fallen Angel: Gram Parsons

Germany-U.K.

Production

A Spothouse/BBC production, in association with Bayerische Rundfunk, Westdeautscher Rundfunk and Filmstiftung Nordhein-Westfalen. Produced by Gandulf Hennig, Alfred Holighaus. Executive producers, Mark Cooper, Mark Hagen, Walter Greifenstein, Peter Sommer. Directed by Gandulf Hennig. Screenplay Hennig, Sid Griffin.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, DigiBeta), Boris Becker, Peter Reuther, various; editor, Birgit Mild; music, Gram Parsons, others. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Nonfiction Features), Oct. 6, 2004. English dialogue. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Gram Parsons, Keith Richards, Emmylou Harris, Bernie Leadon, Peter Buck, Gretchen Burren, Chris Hillman.
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