In the drug-addicted annals of monster-rock band Hole's lady legacy, there's the one who died (bassist Kristen Pfaff), the one whose husband died (screamer Courtney Love), and the one who stayed alive. That's Patty Schemel, the overlooked redheaded drummer close enough to Kurt Cobain that even his Bozo-lipped widow acknowledges on camera, "She was probably more in Nirvana than I was." Fortunately, this means Hit So Hard offers Schemel's lovely personal footage of a vulnerably scrawny Kurt nurturing baby Frances Bean, along with testimonies that Mr. Teen Spirit was privately a "bathroom-humor guy" (!?!); seminal grrrl-rager "Miss World" was recorded during a crystal-meth binge; and, according to one astutely hilarious observer, grunge "fashion" was just stolen from lesbian style (plaid button-downs, jeans, Dr. Martens). Unfortunately for Schemel, director P. David Ebersole seems to think these pop-up video footnotes are a substitute for narrative development, and, more or less, forgets to edit down the rest of this tediously paced rockumentary. Schemel's path from Dairy Queen parking-lot loiterer to Rolling Stone cover face to, well, back to the proverbial parking lot, where a relapsed Schemel ended up stealing drugs while disastrously under-mining Celebrity Skin recording sessions, could have been an amazingly told story. Instead, Hit So Hard is just amazing treatment-facility programming.
A cleaned-up Schemel in a publicity photo for the documentary.
Runs Fri., May 25-Thurs., May 31 at Northwest Film Forum. Not rated. 103 minutes.