Sophie Fiennes' combination concert film and intimate observational documentary of musician, actress and cultural icon Grace Jones bills itself as the most revealing portrait of the star yet. It takes viewers behind the scenes and into the life of Jones, who hasn't historically granted much access to her personal life. But there are times in "Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami" where she behaves exactly as you might imagine, complaining that no one parties like they used to; eating oysters in the recording studio jamming to her own songs — just being the lovable weirdo that we always imagined she is.
Fiennes cuts between familiar images of Jones — performing on stage in her signature costumes, all mile-long legs and Philip Treacy fascinators, and that commanding, resonant voice. Interspersed throughout the performances are glimpses into Jones' personal life, bouncing between recording sessions, backstage and, most fascinating, trips to her native Jamaica, where she excavates her personal and family history and investigates how that informs her art, channeling her ancestry and trauma into her work.
Fiennes takes an observational approach to these personal moments. The camera sometimes hangs back, or gets up close and personal, but it's always laser focused on Grace, who is always fully authentic within her many selves. She code-switches frequently and fluidly, from language to language, accent to accent, from urbane art diva to nature girl.
The observational style and relaxed structure makes for a film that's a bit obtuse at times, but it lulls the viewer into a rhythm, from concert to backstage to Jamaica, cycling through Grace's worlds with the same ease that she does. Ultimately, "Bloodlight and Bami" is a rich, delicate tapestry of a life, where each thread is lovingly woven together to create a full picture.
‘Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami’
Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Playing: Landmark Nuart, West L.A.; Edwards University Town Center, Irvine