Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl (Amy Goldstein, 2018):USA

Reviewed by Larry Gleeson. Viewed via streaming screener’s link.

I guess as the music industry attempted to adapt to the internet’s explosion of music file-sharing the business strategy to pump new artists for every conceivable profit was implemented. Numerous stories of artists struggling to deal with the pressures of the business have resulted in a catastrophe. Amy Winehouse explicitly comes to mind as does the documentary, Amy, detailing her struggle, and ultimately she succumbs to it.

After exploding upon the UK music scene at the age of 18 with a chart-topping, commercially successful album, Made of Bricks, the uber-talented, English indie-pop, indie-rock, singer-songwriter Kate Nash started down that slippery slope as her life changed drastically virtually overnight as she went from a fashion retailer to the hottest new music sensation. And, Director Amy Goldstein lays it out in detail in the documentary film, Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl.

Utilizing some initial MTV-style editing, some non-diegetic music, and a powerful narrative the film delivers a blow-by-blow account of Nash’s career and semi-private life as she deals with fame, an unethical manager and nefarious industry professionals during a decade of soul-wrenching survival. After being nearly homeless and at her wit’s end, Nash finds herself hosting a QVC show in a comic bookstore and selling her authentic clothes.

Eventually, Nash rises out of the darkness by crowd-funding her third album, tapping into the uplifting power of online culture and re-ignites her own creative, expressive voice. She makes a conscious decision to pursue acting as another form of artistic expression (and as a way of making ends meet) landing a part on the TV series GLOW as Britannica.

Beloved by her fans and with a passion for creating thematically strong lyrics, Nash shows she is more than just a girl in Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl as she never forgets who she is as an artist through all her trials and tribulations. Much like Taylor Swift shares in Miss Americana, Nash imagines an unending challenge for female artists is staying relevant and that means, more often than not, in elevating the performance bar in creating new and exciting artistic expressions.

Admitting she “loves and lives” for making music while also claiming the music industry has almost killed her several times, Nash fortuitously continues working today, writing, singing, and performing her songs with her band. Investing in herself and finding like-minded individuals, Nash is self-promoting her career and that includes her own marketing – seemingly, the impetus behind Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl.

I came away a fan after watching Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl – a wonderful treatment of a personal testimonial with simple narrative interviews juxtaposed against some fabulous performances. The film is structured around Nash’s songs and lyrics, as they are written and performed, revealing her tumultuous, courageous and inspirational story. In addition, a sampling of Verite-style footage, some backstage material, and some archival moments from her personal and professional rebound adds an indisputable authenticity often missing in commercial filmmaking.

Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl, has a running time of 89 minutes, and will not be rated by the MPAA. Highly recommended film of an artist that’s here to stay. Check it out. You’ll be glad you did!

The documentary was released nationally on Friday, May 22, 2020, via Alamo Drafthouse’s new virtual cinema platform ALAMO ON DEMAND. The exclusive release will then hit a limited traditional theatrical rollout in August.

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