A song-and-dance star is ready for her big TV break … but there’s a demonic presence waiting in the wings.
Singer, dancer and all-round diva Sissy St Claire is hosting her very own TV variety special, filmed in front of a live studio audience. But as she hoofs and belts her way around a deliriously spangled set, pausing only for awkward skits and lavishly corny monologues to-camera, a menacing masked figure is watching her. Is it a demon? A stalker? Is Sissy self-sabotaging, or is she losing her mind? As she begins to panic, the show starts to turn on her.
Premiering at Rotterdam as part of a showcase of director Amanda Kramer’s work, Give Me Pity! is a meticulously realised parody of 1970s and 1980s musical variety television. Kramer – whose film Please Baby Please is also screening at MIFF 70 – has femininity and celebrity in her satirical sights, with a high-camp aesthetic that’s at once sinister, seductive and surreal. As Sissy, Bette Midler’s daughter Sophie von Haselberg absolutely commits to a roller-coaster trip of musical numbers and monologues that increasingly feels like an endurance test or ritual of humiliation. Never before has television looked so dangerous.
A thing of beauty and wonder … Give Me Pity! is yet another spectacular accomplishment to add to Kramer’s already formidable filmography.
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