A documentary that offers a look into the busy life of Joan Rivers, the 75-year-old comedian who’s still working as if her survival depended on it – and perhaps it does, in a way. The idea of retirement seems to frighten her; the manic approach to working may have been a problem in the past, but the movie makes it clear that anyone who wants to be close to Joan has to accept the whole package. The filmmakers remind us of when Rivers broke through (on The Tonight Show in 1965) and how every success and setback in her life, personal and career-wise, has shaped her into one tough broad who enjoys life but is still afraid of losing it all. A very entertaining look at the pursuit of relevance and the craftsmanship of comedy; Rivers is still formidable on stage.
2010-U.S. 84 min. Color. Produced by Seth Keal, Anne Sundberg. Directed by Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg. Screenplay: Ricki Stern.
Trivia: Don Rickles and Kathy Griffin make appearances.
Last word: “After two brief meetings, I asked Joan if she would like to be featured in a documentary that would illustrate her life-long work while also capturing the obsessive drive of her every day struggle to keep performing. She said ‘Yes’ with no hesitation. However, I was a bit wary. We warned her, ‘Joan we will be there on Saturday morning as you roll out of bed with no make up.’ She responded, ‘I have lived my life in front of the cameras, I know how this goes.’ Even after she reassured us, I was still concerned that she would hold back her acerbic humor, close doors at meetings, limit time with us. Remarkably, in the course of filming her over the following fourteen months, Joan never gave us reason for concern again.” (Stern, Indiewire)