review for Nico-Icon on AllMovie

Nico-Icon (1995)
by Andrea LeVasseur review

Susanne Ofteringer's documentary explores the manufacturing and failure of the pop culture icon Nico. The film's strength is in its dazzling rare archive footage, emphasizing the importance of the mass-marketed image on her life. Without idealizing the star, it chronicles the model/actress/singer achieving icon status and allowing her self to become destroyed by it. Photos and clips of the young model on Vogue covers and in champagne commercials are effectively linked with her haunting vocal recordings. Ofteringer emphasizes the themes of isolation and lack of identity recurrent in Nico's music by offering graphics of her lyrics over the beauty-queen images. Interviews with family members and bandmates attest to the star's hatred of her own beauty, but none claim to really understand what was going on with her. Rare footage of Andy Warhol, and interviews with various Factory regulars discuss her entrance into the Velvet Underground in relation to her image rather than talent. Missing here is an interview with Velvet Underground frontman, and Nico's supposed lover, Lou Reed. Her solo music career marked a radical opposition to the blonde beauty that made her a pop star. Addicted to heroin, her darker style is evident in concert footage, music videos, and old interviews with Nico herself. Perhaps most telling of the star's descent is through the interview with her son, Ari Bolouge. Although her plight remains shrouded in mystery, this film provides an in-depth look into Nico's reproduced images and vocal recordings, along with the contradicting impressions she left on people and pop culture.