"The Latter Years of a 1960s Icon"
What You Need To Know:
This biopic only covers the last two years of Nico’s life, so there are few events in the movie’s 93-minute running time. The story follows her tour in Europe, performing at clubs and venues, sometimes even illegally. Parts of the production feel amateur, with sporadic footage of the real Nico. Learning about the latter years of her life is interesting. However, the movie borders on dull, with the movie’s historical elements being the driving force behind it. NICO, 1988 has a strong Romantic worldview and is filled with drug abuse and questionable content.
NICO, 1988 depicts the last two years of the life of German singer Christa Päffgen, a former member of the band The Velvet Underground, and actress for Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey in their experimental underground movie CHELSEA GIRLS. After making CHELSEA GIRLS, Nico performed on The Velvet Underground’s influential debut album, at the insistence of Warhol, who managed the band. Twenty years after leaving The Velvet Underground, Nico is performing under her own name with her own band. Formerly a model in the 1960s, her addiction to heroin has aged the once beautiful woman into a strung-out performing artist, dependent on substances to get her through the day.
After performing a show at a club one night, the club’s owner becomes her manager, and they begin touring throughout Europe. Flashes of her past show viewers parts of her life that contributed to the product of what she became in the 1980s.
Growing up in Germany as a little girl, Christa struggled to find food to eat during the war. Her tough childhood, among other things, create a woman who wrestles with sobriety and any type of intimate relationship in her life, including her relationship to her son.
As the tour through Europe continues, her partnering manager, Laura, gets more and more fed up with how difficult Christa can be. Before a show in Prague, that is technically illegal, Nico screams at the hosts for heroin. This embarrasses everyone in her crew and puts the hosts in danger after they have already risked a great deal to have her perform.
Nico decides to try to reconnect with her son, Ari, who was adopted by his father’s parents after she couldn’t give Ari the care he needed. He comes on tour with her, but the temporary spark of happiness is quickly snuffed out when Ari ends up in the hospital unexpectedly. Nico has to decide what’s really important to her in life: the temporary bliss of heroin or a relationship with her son.
NICO, 1988 looks at the last two years of Christa’s life only for a short 93 minutes, with not many events transpiring during that time. As a more “slice of life” type of storytelling, this movie shows a portion of this woman’s life, many performances and a lot of drug abuse. Although the content and history can be entertaining, a few production elements feel a bit amateur, as some shots and dialogue don’t contribute all that they can to this story.
This movie is dominated by a strong Romantic worldview, where the driving force is artistic expression and there is little to no moral compass or mention of God. The movie has an an excessive amount of drug use. Nico is addicted to heroin, and she, as well as multiple other characters, partake in other drugs such as marijuana. There is someone in practically every scene with a drink or a cigarette in their mouth, and sexual relationships are very ambiguous and open. Because of these elements, NICO, 1988 is unacceptable viewing, despite any historical value it may have.