Becoming an artist means sacrificing a lot of things in order to become successful. In the circles I know, many aren’t seen for months as they hovel themselves away in dark rooms in order to create something spectacular without so much of a sniff of a social life (cough, myself, cough cough). Others who go down a career based route are often seen and lamented as bad parents if they choose to have a family too - as any heavy career driven person would. I do believe that women often get the lump of this - mothers who are musicians that have to tour are seen as bad for trying to provide, not just for a their children but for their own soul.
Stephanie’s choice to depict her life and difficult childhood alongside her life now is a tentative one. Could you, in the same documentary, swipe at a mother who journeys from tour to tour, love to love, home to home whilst equally celebrating the matriarch for the love they have gifted you?
Thematically and emotionally, this is where Argerich (Bloody Daughter) finds its strength. The questions it leaves you with afterwards has such a strong thematic response that will echo and ring in your spirit long after viewing. It is really a question about fame, music and family that has only truly been mastered by the excellent What Maisie Knew of late (that’s not to say that Martha is in anyway as horrid as Susanna).
Fans of Martha Argerich will no doubt mourn the loss of music in the film. The celebrated woman of notes and tunes are showcased in little moments throughout the film but it is not enough to lend itself to a musical documentary. After all, that isn’t the point. The emotion and the drama is. Whilst there is poignancy in the songs that change due to circumstances in their lives, it isn’t given a rich stage to be showcased. And Stephanie Argerich’s documentary smatters of amateur filmmaking that is both unskilled and uneven. Though, this isn’t too detrimental - the film is still an excellent and astute portrayal of both women.
Argerich (Bloody Daughter) is out May 1st