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MOVIE: STOOGE (as part of Revelation Film Festival 2018)

| 11 July 2018 | Reply

MOVIE: STOOGE (as part of Revelation Film Festival 2018)
Written & directed by Madeleine Farley
Starring Robert Partiger, Iggy Pop
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Shot over several years, Madeleine Farley’s documentary follows obsessed Stooges fan Robert Partiger as he attempts to meet his hero Iggy Pop. In search of some kind of redemption after years of alcoholism and depression – his best friend describes Partiger as having had a breakdown – he seems to have decided that finally getting face to face after thirty years of following Pop would supply some kind of validation to his life – to somehow end his obsession and allow him to move forwards with his life.

Partiger sells his house to fund his escapades and jets off to Los Angeles “in search of rock n’ roll action”, where he excitedly swims in the pool of the house The Stooges lived in in the ‘60s. He dances with the band onstage in Europe. He loiters backstage and waits for Pop to leave various venues and even follows their car to see which hotel they’re staying in. He even wishes out loud that he could convince Pop to play some ping pong with him next time he comes to London – at least, until Stooges saxophonist Steve Mackay advises him that’s not going to happen. Stooges members Scott Asheton and Mike Watts also appear briefly, as does Pop’s wife, cutely referred to even in the credits as ‘Mrs Pop.’


An ex-girlfriend likens Partiger’s futile quest to that of Don Quixote; perhaps to call it a pilgrimage would be more accurate. But it’s a pilgrimage which he eventually realises is more about him than the holy grail he seeks: indeed, when he finally flies to Miami and discovers Pop’s house, he drives away quickly, asserting that he should not even be there.

Partiger’s frailty is endearing, and it’s heartbreaking to watch him throw so much away in pursuit of a wisp of smoke. “This is the depth of the madness,” Partiger admits at one point, and we can’t help but wonder if a psychiatrist to treat his depression would have been a more fruitful outcome for him. His quest, though, is undeniably romantic – however pointless it may be.

Farley’s film is flawed – it jumps back and forth too much, and many questions go unanswered through the patchy narrative – but at its essence is a rare beauty. Where it works, it is jaw-dropping, such as the climax, where Partiger finally gets a written reply from Pop.

Partiger cannot bring himself to open and read the note for six weeks, and when he does, the anti-climax of it is somehow perfect.

Stooge is not just a movie about fandom or rock and roll obsession, it’s about depression and the way it eats at your lust for life, skewing your focus. It’s a film about being lost and searching for a way out of the fog.

We’re just extras in the lives of rock and roll stars such as Pop – he’ll never drop his schedule and play ping pong with the likes of Partiger, and we always know that. Everyone except Partiger, whose punched in the gut reaction when he reads Pop’s five word reply is the penny dropping full stop he perhaps needs, and – hopefully – the cure to his strange malais. We can only hope that now he has moved on and has a new, happier focus in his life.

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Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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