Release Date: Aug. 6
Director/Writer: Steven Sebring
Cinematographers: Phillip Hunt, Sebring
Starring: Patti Smith
Studio/Run Time: Clean Socks, 109 mins.
Gorgeously fragmented take on punk legend
“Life isn’t some vertical or horizontal line,” Patti Smith notes in Dream of Life, the debut documentary by fashion photographer Steven Sebring. And though biography is covered, it’s secondary to Sebring’s infatuation with Smith, filling the screen with endless images of the punk/poet moving through the landscape, standing in corners and cutting across rooms. Besides Smith’s natural magnetism, Sebring’s footage—much in stunning black and white—is beautiful, sustaining itself over nearly two hours. Shuffling non-linearly through 11 years of filming, Sebring communicates Smith’s mission of grace and ecstasy more than talking heads ever could. Still, more history—even a single interview with guitarist Lenny Kaye, with whom Smith has worked since 1971—would’ve intensified the plot. Even so, there’s something to be said for a film about Patti Smith that barely mentions the word “punk.”