Achim Bornhak’s Eurotrash biopic of Uschi Obermaier, German supermodel and radical-chic icon of the ’60s, is one long tease — not in a voyeuristic sense, since its heroine, as nakedly incarnated by pouty Polish sexpot Natalia Avelon, hides none of her obvious talents under a bushel. Rather, “Eight Miles High” frustrates because, while continually promising to tip over into kitsch, the filmmakers remain in the realm of the uncommittedly awful as Avelon parades around seducing German counterculture icons and British rockers who go gaga over her uninhibited sexuality. Pic, which bowed July 11 at Gotham’s Cinema Village, underwhelms on all levels.
Based on Obermaier’s best-selling autobiography, saga follows its heroine from the provincialism of her parents’ Bavarian hometown to the sexual experimentation of a radical Berlin commune where her breathless beauty makes long-haired revolutionaries abandon their ideals. Though she remains a political lightweight, the photographers seize upon her image, already familiar from nude magazine layouts, and make her the star of political demonstrations.
Scenes depicting Obermaier’s intersection with the times and frequent brushes with greatness combine historical oversimplification with the outright tedium of celebrity impersonators. A fervent rock ‘n’ roll fan, Obermaier travels to England to meet the Rolling Stones, with helmer Bornhak offering ersatz approximations of Mick Jagger (a foppish Victor Noren) and Keith Richards (Alexander Scheer, granted more screen time since all the he has to do is mumble and lurch). Both Stones are smitten with the footloose fraulein, Richards in particular. Jimi Hendrix stays blessedly offscreen.
Obermaier ditches the inconsolable rock legends to run off with mustachioed adventurer Deiter Bockman (David Scheller), the only cast member capable of rising to the requisite level of uber-romantic hyperbole. From there, the couple traverses the Third World (pic often resembles a late-’70s/early-’80s international co-production, even down to the lavish India-set nuptials), allowing Obermaier and her bare-chested beau to bum around in a brand new assortment of scanty ethnic costumes, complete with monkey accessory.
Pic’s credibility hardly suffers from this whirlwind tour of the fashionably impoverished, since all Obermaier’s excursions feel like the memoirs of a delusional groupie. It is not until photos of the real Obermaier appear over the end credits that one begins to understand what all the fuss was about.