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The Beautiful Ugliness of Nico, 1988

The Beautiful Ugliness of Nico, 1988

Nico, 1988 is a rock-and-roll road movie devoid of glamour — except that strange, perverse glamour that accompanies any story about a fading, drug-addled legend. Writer-director Susanna Nicchiarelli’s film is less a biopic than a character study focusing on the last few years of the former model and Velvet Underground singer’s life.

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Nearing 50 and addicted to heroin, Nico (born Christa Päffgen) embarks on what will be her final solo European tour, playing dingy venues (and even one illegal show in the Soviet Union) and attempting to reconnect with her teenage son along the way. Danish actress and musician Trine Dyrholm is electrifying, heartbreaking, and, at times, funny as the troubled, volatile artist. While she performs many of Nico’s dark and moving songs herself, including a raucous version of the goth anthem “My Heart Is Empty,” Nicchiarelli offers a raw portrait of an icon studiously trying to demolish her own persona. “I don’t need everybody to like me,” Nico says in one scene. “I don’t care.”

Nico, 1988 hits theaters on August 1.

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