Monday, April 30, 2012

Hot Docs 2012 Film Review: Rick Springfield "An Affair of the Heart"

Last night, I attended the Canadian premiere of Sylvia Caminer's documentary An Affair of the Heart at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema and in attendance was not only the film-maker, but the film's subject himself, pop-idol Rick Springfield (pictured below).

There's a sad moment in An Affair of the Heart when a jaded husband/father confesses the hurt he feels when his wife's teenage crush over Rick Springfield has manifested into an adult obsession.  It's clearly tearing the family apart, but they always acquiesce when she leaves to see yet another one of his concerts.  The husband recalls their daughter asking, "Daddy, do you hate Rick Springfield too?" And he responds with a resounding, "yes, hun.  Yes I do."

Director & Producer Sylvia Caminer's documentary An Affair of the Heart is a touching portrait of how the 80's icon has impacted his fans' lives (good and bad) through his music and friendship.  The film includes many revealing interviews with Springfield (about the loss of his father and surrogate mother, his infidelity to his wife and his struggle with his 'dark' alter-ego) and several of his concert performances interspersed with fans recounting how they overcame adversity with the help of his music.

One woman remembers how Springfield's Working Class Dog album helped her heal after her open-heart surgery in the 80's and a meeting with him 30 years later finally alleviated her self-pity and anger.  In another heart-wrenching scene, a minister, who was contemplating suicide after going through an extremely traumatic experience, explains how she persevered after identifying with the anger in Springfield's 2004 album, Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance.

Of course, there are the extreme fans who just want to recapture the innocence and freedom that they once felt when they were pre-teens.  Many of them hoard Springfield paraphernalia and bear tribute tattoos.  As strange as they may appear, Caminer never paints them in a bad light - instead, she leaves judgement to the disapproving bystanders (one witness on a Springfield & Friends Cruise compares the fanaticism to a cult).

An Affair of the Heart is an extraordinary examination of how an artist uplifts his fans' lives and they in turn fulfill his.  An emotional Springfield remembers when a fan came to his rescue when he was stranded in an airport after his flight was cancelled.   Sadly, it appeared that he would miss his surrogate mother's funeral, but a devoted fan offered her ticket and a grateful Springfield made the ceremony on time.  Springfield and the fan sharing that personal moment is one of the film's most moving scenes.

Caminer's film is a labour of love.  Not just for Springfield fans (aka "Rickaholics"), but everyone who appreciates a great documentary.

An Affair of the Heart also screens tonight at the Royal Cinema at 7pm (Rick Springfield will be in attendance) and Thursday, May 3rd at the Cumberland 3 at 6:30pm.

1 comment:

  1. I remember him from way before Noah or Jessie. I had a K-tel record of him singing 'Speak to the sky' from 1971!! He's always been too pretty for me but he looks great for almost 63. He looks a lot like J.D. Roberts. Sorry John Roberts